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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


PhD student

College: Hughes Hall
Supervisor: Hasok Chang, Simon Schaffer
Thesis topic: Investigating the flow of electrical ideas through the instruments of their discovery, 1800–1850
Research interests: 19th-century physics; scientific instruments; museums; material culture; field sciences and exploration, particularly in the polar regions.


Museum Curator, The Polar Museum

As Museum Curator I have two key responsibilities. The first is sharing our collections and the research carried out at the Scott Polar Research Institute in exciting and innovative ways with a range of audiences, through displays, events, digital resources, in-person events and other outreach activities. I manage the Polar Museum's team of collections, outreach and comms staff, and oversee our work with around 50 museum volunteers.

The second is ensuring that the museum collections held by the Scott Polar Research Institute are cared for properly: that they are stored or displayed appropriately, carefully catalogued, well researched and as accessible as possible to visitors and researchers. In collaboration with academic colleagues I have successfully secured funding for a number of studentships and research projects.

As one of the University of Cambridge Museums the Polar Museum is part of a consortium, and working across multi-disciplinary organisations is vital. Since September 2019 I have been Chair of the Cambridge Museums Steering Group, and in that role I help shape strategy for nine organisations that together welcome over 1.3 million visitors a year, and support over 15,000 research visits and enquiries each year.

  • 2015 - present, Museum Curator, The Polar Museum
  • 2019 - present, Chair, University of Cambridge Museums Steering Group
  • 2018 - 2019, Deputy Chair, University of Cambridge Museums Steering Group
  • 2018 - 2019, Trustee, Museum of Cambridge
  • 2012 - 2014, Content Developer for Information Age, the Science Museum
  • 2010 - 2012, Assistant Curator of Computing and Communication, the Science Museum


  • 2010 MSc Museum Studies
  • 2008 BSc History and Philosophy of Science

Awards and Affiliations


My research interests include understanding museum visitors' attitudes to environmental change, how the development of museum collections has influenced cultural attitudes and introduced or cemented particular biases in scientific practice, and how recreating the use of historic scientific instruments can help historians and museum visitors gain better insight into scientific ideas and processes. I am also interested in participatory practice in the development of exhibitions and displays.

Current projects


I'm on the supervision team for two doctoral projects, providing technical museum collections support as well as expertise relating to material culture studies and the history of science.


Journal articles


  • Connelly, C. and Warrior, C., 2018. Survey stories in the history of British polar exploration: museums, objects and people. Notes and Records the Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, v. 73, p.20180038-. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2018.0038.



Book chapters

  • Connelly, C., 2019. A Tour of the Northwest Passage, in Culture and Climate Change: Scenarios, Shed.
  • Connelly, C. and Chang, H., 2019. Galvanometers and the many lives of scientific instruments, in The Whipple Museum of the History of Science: Objects and Investigations, to Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of R. S. Whipple's Gift to the University of Cambridge. p.159-186.
  • Connelly, C., 2018. Climate Hack: Rapid Prototyping New Displays in Multi-disciplinary Museums, in Addressing the Challenges in Communicating Climate Change Across Various Audiences. p.517-530. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-98294-6_31.
  • Connelly, C.E., 2014. The Cell; The Broadcast, in Blyth, T. (ed.) Information Age Six Networks That Changed Our World, Scala Arts Publishers Incorporated.