Museum Gardens is a picturesque spot in the centre of York; a peaceful hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. During the warmer months, (and throughout the year, for that matter), many flock to the park to sunbathe, study, and socialise. As well as the Yorkshire Museum, York Observatory and St. Mary’s Abbey, Museum Gardens plays host to a group of people whose aim it is to garner and spread knowledge.
Since its inception, from their headquarters in Museum Gardens, The Yorkshire Philosophical Society have been avidly promoting the virtues of and stimulating interest in a wealth of important natural and social sciences.
Formed in 1822 by James Atkinson, William Salmond, Anthony Thorpe and William Vernon, the society planned to amass a large collection of artefacts and documents pertaining to the improving of the public understanding of everything from archaeology to zoology. In 1822, the word ‘philosophical’ had an equal meaning to ‘scientific’, yet the society continued the moniker through the ages. Alongside the Philosophical Society, and its affiliation with the British Science Association, the group also founded the Yorkshire Museum and Botanical Gardens in 1830, otherwise known as the Museum Gardens themselves.
Promotion of the sciences is supported heavily by the organisation of more than twenty public lectures, put on throughout the year by eminent academics from across the UK. These lectures form the base of a calendar of awards, publications, activities and events, and take place in the Tempest Anderson Hall, added as an extension of the Yorkshire Museum in 1912, named for Dr. Tempest Anderson, who requested a dedicated space for scientific events. Admission to these lectures vary, but are inexpensive compared to the experience gained from them.
The Yorkshire Philosophical Society also supports another scientific endeavour; Café Scientifique. Café Scientifique is a place where like-minded individuals can come together to discuss science and technology in a relaxed environment, like a café, or a bar. Originating in Leeds in 1998, Café Scientifiques have popped up all over the country in the past decade.
The society also offer an award and a bursary to two archaeology students per year, research grants to those that fill the brief of working towards, ‘the promotion of natural science and the study of archaeology and antiquities in the County of Yorkshire and elsewhere’, and sponsorship of artefacts, articles and books of scientific and historical interest.
From their position in the archaeologically and theologically rich city of York, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society are best placed to continue their good work; collecting and collating the fascinating and indispensable fragments of the past, in order to better understand the future.