A collaborative AHRC-funded Knowledge Transfer project between the Thackray Medical Museum and the University of Leeds – “Patently Innovative?” – took objects from the Thackray’s collection and developed new stories and narratives based around invention and ownership. The devices range from everyday technologies such as thermometers and bandages through to highly-specialised phototherapy equipment, and show how patenting was used in a variety of different ways by medical practitioners, manufacturers and innovators. One of these devices – the Overbeck Rejuvenator – is now on display in the museum.

Led by Professor Graeme Gooday (University of Leeds) and Joanne Bartholomew (Thackray Medical Museum), the project employed a Knowledge Transfer Fellow, Dr James Stark, to carry out consultations with industry representatives and visitor groups, conduct original historical research into the history of medical technologies, and deliver staff training. “Patently Innovative?” culminated in a one-day workshop on the collaborative relationship between medical museums and universities. This lead out of major research carried out at the University of Leeds on the history of intellectual property: “Owning and Disowning Invention”.