profile picture of Juan-Andres Leon

Juan-Andres Leon Gomez

Visiting Senior Research Fellow (Feb 2017-Jan 2025)


Juan-Andres Leon is the Curator of Physics at the Science Museum in London. He is involved in collections development, exhibitions, and research around physics-related objects from the 17th century to the present. Juan-Andres Leon faces daily challenges to fit in museum collections and exhibitions from the largest-scale instrumentation of nuclear and particle physics, to the material culture of highly theoretical research. He aims to cover aspects of a scientific practice from the esoteric to the mundane, while connecting them with their sociopolitical context.

At the MPIWG, Juan-Andres Leon works as a visiting scholar of the group “Historical Epistemology of the Final Theory Program." He is currently researching Stephen Hawking’s role among the generation of theoreticians attempting to unify general relativity and quantum theory, ultimately tackling how to best understand (and convey to museum audiences) the “post-empirical” physics of the past generation. 

Juan-Andres Leon studied physics and history before completing his PhD in the history of science (Harvard University, 2014) with a dissertation titled “Citizens of the Chemical Complex,” in which he explored the world of science philanthropy in Imperial and Weimar Germany and its impact in the applied sciences, physics, mathematics, and astronomy.

Juan-Andres Leon has been collaborating with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science since 2015. 

At the Research Program "History of the Max Planck Society" (GMPG), together with Luisa Bonolis and Roberto Lalli, he was in charge of research on the history of astrophysics and space exploration. This resulted in several workshops and publications including the book Astrophysics, Astronomy and Space Sciences in the History of the Max Planck Society (Brill, 2022). 

Between 2019 and 2021, Juan-Andres Leon also collaborated with the Department I group “Knowledge in and of the Anthropocene,” with a particular interest in pointing out the methodological and conceptual origins of the Anthropocene in the ‘cosmochemistry’ of the nuclear and early space ages. 

Parallel to his academic trajectory, Juan-Andres pursued a museum career that focused on modern scientific instrumentation and computing, at Harvard University’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (2009-2014) and the Science History Institute (2013-2015) – then called the Chemical Heritage Foundation. 

Since 2020, Juan-Andres has been based in the United Kingdom, where he became curator at the Science Museum in 2021.

Selected Publications

León Gómez, Juan Andres (2024). “Stephen Hawking’s Superspace and Supergravity Blackboard: An Iconic Artefact in the Making.” Science Museum Group Journal 21.

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Bonolis, Luisa and Juan Andres León Gómez (2024). “Astronomie, Astrophysik und die Erforschung des Weltraums.” In Die Max-Planck-Gesellschaft: Wissenschafts- und Zeitgeschichte 1945–2005, ed. J. Renn, C. Reinhardt, J. Kocka, F. Schmaltz, B. Kolboske…

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Bonolis, Luisa and Juan Andres León Gómez (2023). Astrophysics, Astronomy and Space Sciences in the History of the Max Planck Society. History of Modern Science 4. Leiden: Brill.

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Bonolis, Luisa and Juan Andres León Gómez (2021). “Thinking Big: How Large-scale Detectors Set the Stage for the Emergence of Astro-particle Physics. A Short Survey.” In Atti del XL Convegno annuale: Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference, 8–10…

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