“Making” and “knowing” have generally been viewed as belonging to different types and orders of knowledge. “Craft” and “making” have been associated with how-to information, oriented to a particular situation or product, often informal and tacit, while “knowing” has been related to theoretical, propositional, and abstract knowledge including natural science. Although craftspeople and artists have worked with natural materials and sometimes been viewed as experts in the behavior of matter, the notion that making art can constitute a means of knowing nature is still a novel one. Published by the University of Michigan Press in 2014 as part of the Bard Graduate Center’s ongoing book series, Cultural Histories of the Material World, Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, edited by Pamela H. Smith (Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University), Amy R. W. Meyers (Director of the Yale Center for British Art), and Harold J. Cook (John F. Nickoll Professor of History at Brown University), was the culmination of a project that began as a five-day conference in London in 2005. This volume, with contributions from historians of science, medicine, art, and material culture, shows that the histories of science and art are not simply histories of concepts or styles, or at least not that alone, but histories of the making and using of objects to understand the world.

Since then, and with increasing momentum, many exciting approaches to “making and knowing” have emerged in areas across disciplines, research interests, and institutions where the act of “making” is critical to understanding. This evening, the editors of the book, together with Glenn Adamson(Director of the Museum of Arts and Design), Edward S. Cooke, Jr. (Charles F. Montgomery Professor, History of American Decorative Arts in the Department of the History of Art at Yale), Martina Droth (Head of Research at the Yale Center for British Art), Florence Grant (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Yale Center for British Art), and Lisa O’Sullivan (Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health at the New York Academy of Medicine) will explore the future of making and knowing from the varying perspectives of the museum, the classroom, and the research institute.