5 thoughts on “I’ll be honest, I’m in two minds about the Royal Institution (RI) issue.

  1. I dunno, if we can plow trillions into our financial sectors when they messed up because they “were too big to fail”, can we not try and salvage our cultural and scientific heritage (even if it was the RI and its previous director who were responsible for the current crisis)?

    I’d agree with your last paragraph, although I’m under the impression that the RI is doing a better job at being more relevant in recent years.


    • Thanks for reading my blog. Your point is a fair one. As I say, I do feel conflicted about the issue. I too think these things are worth saving for the nation but it is hard not to also feel that some of the decisions they make are profligate especially in the current climate. Perhaps I would feel more comfortable about them if I knew that the public were more involved in their governance and accountability structures and, indeed, in the way they operate generally.


  2. Excellent post, and I find much to agree with here. People romanticise the location far too much. In this increasingly digital world, the importance of physical locations is surely diminishing. There is still tremendous value in hands-on events; but as you say there is little advantage in having a grandiose location over just renting space somewhere a little more modest.

    I personally don’t see a pressing need for ostentatious structures, and feel that the money could be far better spent elsewhere. If a fundraising drive could ‘save’ Albermarle (‘optimistic’ unless a millionaire philanthropist steps up), then so be it. Yet I would still rather see that money go towards actual engagement projects!


  3. I’m not really sure its necessary to get into a philosophical debate on the importance of physical structures. We could easily get into arguments about why to a gig, cricket match, art gallery, museum…

    The function of the RI could easily be achieved, and to a degree already is, without the physical presence of its HQ; even the lecture theatre could be recreated elsewhere. That doesn’t mean Abermarle St, and with it a significant part of the history of science in the UK, should be lost to the public. I don’t really see a problem in the maintenance for the public of historically important “ostentatious” buildings, nor non-ostentatious ones for that matter.

    As for how any money raised will be spent- I don’t think the campaign will just hand over a cheque and then business as usual:
    ” In order to attract potential donors, there will also have to be a forward-looking “business plan” that is both compelling and imaginative in addressing the scientific and science educational needs of a country that must compete in the technologically advanced modern world. … In addition, given the controversy surrounding the recent management, a new form of governance may be necessary.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s