Time & Time Again: How Science and Culture Shape the Past, Present, and Future (2013)

Presentation Date: 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Gallery view

Time: We find it, keep it, measure it, obey it, rely on it, waste it, save it, chop it and try to stop it. We organize our lives around it, and yet, do we really know what time is? 


Drawing upon collections in Harvard’s scientific, historical, archaeological, anthropological, and natural history museums and libraries, this exhibition explores the answers given to that question in various ages by different world cultures and disciplines.  Themes include time finding from nature and time keeping by human artifice. Visitors explore cultural beliefs about the creation and end of time, the flow of time, and personal time as marked by rites of passage. They take time out and examine the power of keeping time together in music, dance, work, and faith. They discover time’s representation in history and objects of personal memory, its personification in art, and its expression in biological change and the geological transformations of our planet.

A free smartphone app leads visitors beyond the primary exhibition in the Science Center to other sites on the Harvard Campus where they can explore the concepts of time.  Among these are 40 thought-provoking objects throughout the galleries of all four of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture.

The exhibition and its eCatalog were a fundamental resource for “Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History,” a General Education course taught in the Fall 2013.



Colloquy, Summer 2013 (cover story on the exhibition)

Download free eCatalog here:  iBook with video and PDF

Cover Story Colloquy Summer 20131.15 MB
See also: 2010s