Our Universities: Like Museums

Museums bridge the gap between study and reality and, as in universities, the relationship between communities and the meaning of the things they have produced can both be confused and confusing at times. James Clerk Maxwell, the 19th century Scottish physicist and mathematician responsible for classical electromagnetic theory understood the interaction and the similarities.

In a University we are especially bound to recognize not only the unity of science itself, but the communion of the workers in science. We are too apt to suppose that we are congregated here merely to be within reach of certain appliances of study, such as museums and laboratories, libraries and lecturers, so that each of us may study what he prefers. I suppose that when the bees crowd round the flowers it is for the sake of the honey that they do so, never thinking that it is the dust which they are carrying from flower to flower which is to render possible a more splendid array of flowers, and a busier crowd of bees, in the years to come. We cannot, therefore, do better than improve the shining hour in helping forward the cross-fertilization of the sciences.

James Clerk Maxwell