Francesca Elliott

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Models in Motion: Engineering Models as Objects of Communication in the Industrial City, from the Workshop to the Museum

My Research

I am a Collaborative Doctoral Researcher working with the Science and Industry Museum. I study engineering models, many of which were used in technical education around Manchester and the North West before joining the museum’s collection. My research sits at the intersection of industrial history, museum studies, and material culture studies, and looks at the history of these models in a cultural context from their creation through to their current use in the museum.

Research Interests

Industrial history, education history, museum studies, material culture, social history, workers history, science and technology studies.


Smithsonian Institution – AHRC International Placement Fellowship 2019

From May to July of 2019 I undertook a 3-month research fellowship at the National Museum of American History, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. During this fellowship, I continued my thesis research into model engines, this time looking at models in the Power Machinery Gallery of the National Museum of American History. I was supervised by Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair and Curator of the museum’s Division of Work and Industry.

Science and Industry Museum – AHRC Student Development Fund 2018-19

I spent six months as a Curatorial Researcher working on the redevelopment of the Science and Industry Museum’s Power Hall. This involved extensive object-based research, working as part of the Power Hall working group to produce object and interpretation plans for the gallery. I also produced small object biographies for the museum’s online catalogue based on my research. In collaboration with Manchester Science Festival, I curated and coordinated the temporary exhibition James Joule: Energy and Engines, which ran for three months at Manchester Central Library.


14.04.2021 “Sentimentality and Model Engines: Two Case Studies from the Science and Industry Museum,” British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference (Online).

12.02.2020 “Thomas Bangbala and the Global Workforce of 20th Century Manchester,” British Society for the History of Science Twitter Conference (Online).  Available here

04.11.2019 Panel Convener and Chair, Models and Replicas in Science Museums, Science Museum Group Annual Research Conference, Science and Industry Museum, Manchester.

16.08.2019 “Model Historians: Curating Model Engines in Industrial History Galleries,” Smithsonian Institution Weekly Colloquium, National Museum of American History.

06.07.2018 “Model Students: The Use of Powered Model Engines in Technical Education in Manchester,” Ways of Knowing in (and about) Modern Britain, Centre for Modern British Studies Postgraduate Conference, University of Birmingham.

21.05.2018 “Technical Education in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century Urban Environment,” Constructing Knowledges Postgraduate Symposium, The University of Manchester.

05.04.2018 “Engines in the Classroom: Model Engines in Manchester’s Technical Education Landscape,” British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference 2018.

17.10.2017 “Lessons from Objects: Visitor Reactions to Biological Models and Specimens at the Manchester Museum.” Lunchtime Seminar Series, The University of Manchester, Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.


“Collections research, visitor studies and public engagement: lessons from Manchester”, in collaboration with James Sumner and Jemma Houghton, Universeum 2018.


Review: Authors and Apparatus: a Media History of Copyright, by Monika Dommann. European Review of History (2020) DOI: 10.1080/13507486.2020.1820694

“Weaving Numbers: The Jacquard Loom and Early Computing,” Science and Industry Museum Blog, 17.10.2017.