‘Downstream’ Wins 2022 SHOT Dibner Award for Excellence in Museum Exhibits

Prestigious award from the Society for the History of Technology recognizes exhibitions that raise important historical issues.

November 17, 2022

The Science History Institute is proud to announce that our Downstream exhibition has received the 2022 Dibner Award for Excellence in Museum Exhibits from the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). The prize was presented at an awards banquet on November 12, 2022, during SHOT’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

This prestigious award adds to a growing list of honors that includes a 2022 Institutional Achievement Award from PA Museums and a 2022 Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History. Downstream has also been recognized by such outlets as Philadelphia Weekly, WHYY, Visit Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, which called it a “must-see.”

“‘Downstream’ has received such a positive response from our museum visitors, as well as from our public history and museum communities, and we are particularly thrilled to be recognized by a scholarly organization like SHOT,” said curatorial affairs director Jesse Smith, who curated the exhibition.

On view through July 31, 2023, Downstream takes visitors on a watery journey through the history and science of water protection. The exhibition begins in Philadelphia in the late 1700s, when dead animals, sewage, and manufacturing waste polluted the city’s water supplies. Continuing through present-day concerns about microplastics, the exhibition makes an important discovery: as scientific knowledge of water increases, the scale of environmental action and protection increases as well.

Established in 1985 through the generosity of Bern Dibner, the SHOT Dibner Award for Excellence in Museum Exhibits recognizes excellence in museums and museum exhibits that interpret the history of technology, industry, and engineering. Winning exhibitions raise pertinent historical issues through their design and production, and include artifacts and images used in a manner that interests, teaches, and stimulates both the general public and historians. Past winners include the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, Science Museum London, and Cooper Hewitt.

Society for the History of Technology

The Society for the History of Technology is dedicated to the historical study of technology and its relations to politics, economics, labor, business, the environment, public policy, science, and the arts. Founded in 1958, the society now numbers around 1500 members. An international society, SHOT meets annually in North America or Europe and also sponsors smaller conferences focused on specialized topics, often jointly with other scholarly societies and organizations.

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