CfP: 2nd Scientific Instrument Symposium 18 - 22 September 2023

Scientific Instruments have crossed time and space: they witness the knowledge that was characteristic of the epoch and civilization in which they were built and used. What is a scientific instrument? Which concept is behind it? How did it evolve in different centuries and geographical areas? How did it interact with its cultural context? Which role did it play?

We are usually focused on physical collections, in museums and in other institutions, but it is equally interesting to reflect on the representations of scientific instruments in different contexts, from fine arts to cinema, from textbooks to catalogues and archives, where drawings or descriptions of instruments are sometimes hidden in notebooks or correspondence, sometimes revealing unexpected connections.

In memory of Paolo Brenni, we will pay special attention to conservation and restoration of scientific instruments and the importance of preserving this specific kind of heritage.

In continuity with the last Symposia of the Scientific Instrument Commission (SIC), we want to invite new scholars, open to new methods and new approaches to instruments, and aim to extend our geographical reach, possibly to countries bordering the Mediterranean basin, to learn about historical collections there.

For the upcoming 42nd SIC Symposium in Palermo, we invite you to reflect on these and other issues related to scientific instrument studies. We welcome all proposals for sessions, papers or posters on any topic dealing with the history of scientific instruments.

The symposium will take place as an in-person event by default, assuming there are no public health restrictions. To encourage a wider participation, the conference languages will be English and French. Abstracts will be provided in both languages and we welcome oral presentations in either language.

Oral presentations will be 15 minutes followed by 5 minutes discussion. Poster presentations should consist of 1 poster up to A0 size. Session organizers may devise alternative formats if they wish e.g. panel discussions or multiple short pitch papers (5-10mins each).

Important dates
Deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 March 2023

Presenters and session organizers will be informed by 30 April 2023 whether their proposal has been accepted

Early registration will close on 15 June 2023, late registration will close on 31 July 2023

How to submit your abstract, for paper, poster or session proposals
Please download the Paper Abstract Template here:
and submit your abstract proposal (max 250 words) with a short biographical note highlighting main research interests (max. 50 words) to

Please download the Poster Abstract Template here:
and submit your poster proposal (max 250 words), with a short biographical note highlighting main research interests (max. 50 words) to

Please download the Session Abstract Template here:
and submit your session proposal (max 250 words) with organizer names and contact name, plus abstracts (max 250 words each) and bionotes (max. 50 words each) of all the contributors to

In order to register, you must fill-in a registration form which will be available on the website of the conference (in preparation); when registration opens, a notice will be circulated.

Travel grants
We have a limited number of fixed amount travel grants available for postgraduate students and early career scholars (within 5 years of completion of studies). We are particularly keen to support those who have not attended the SIC Symposium before, or those who are currently under-represented within our community. We will announce the call for travel grant applications on the Rete mailing list in April 2023.

Any questions? In case of questions about the conference, please email to

We look forward to receiving your abstracts in due course. Best wishes,

Ileana Chinnici (on behalf of the Palermo SOC/LOC)
Louise Devoy, Tacye Phillipson and Roland Wittje (the SIC Board)

Early registration fee (June 15) 150 Euros Late registration fee (July 31) 200 Euros Conference dinner 35 Euros