Question 1:
What is the atmosphere ...exploring climate science gallery about?

atmosphere is a gallery with a five-year lifetime, open to the public from 4 December 2010. It forms part of the Science Museum's three-year Climate Changing programme.

The role of the Science Museum is to make sense of the science that shapes our lives. The brand-new atmosphere gallery is a fresh and exciting way to make sense of the climate - the science of how it works, what it's doing now and what it might do next.

Its mission is to deliver an immersive, enjoyable and memorable life-enhancing experience that increases interest, deepens understanding and is robust against deeply held critical convictions. And its vision is to be recognised and admired as the UK destination for clear, accurate, up-to-date information on climate science for the non-specialist.

The gallery has been organised into five zones:

1. Exploring the climate system - science can show us how the climate works and what causes it to change...
2. Exploring Earth's energy balance - science can show us how greenhouse gases work and why they really matter...
3. Exploring the carbon cycle - science can show us carbon's global pathways and how we're causing them to change...
4. Exploring what might happen - science can track what's already changing and help us imagine the future...
5. Exploring our future choices - science and technology are already helping... what are our options for tomorrow?

Question 2:
Who is the gallery suitable for?

The gallery is aimed at the following target audiences:

  • Families with children aged 8+
  • Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 pupils, aged 11-16, studying GCSE science/geography and their teachers
  • Independent non-specialist adults

The gallery's immersive experience includes low light levels, moving projected images and some flashing lights.

Gallery books in large print are available on benches around the edge of the gallery. .

British Sign Language is available for 20 priority animations located on the Climate Science Info Zone computer terminals within the gallery and on the website.

Question 3:
What kind of things will I be able to see and do in the gallery?

The atmosphere gallery combines interactive exhibits, in-depth content on climate science, including some of the latest climate news, and objects from the Science Museum's collection and on loan from around the world, plus a specially commissioned artwork. This provides a wealth of information on climate science and a variety of ways in which to access and explore the subject for yourself. There are also enjoyable animations and more detailed information about climate science on our 'info stations', which can also be found on our website.

Question 4:
Why has the Science Museum decided to make a gallery about climate science?

Climate change is one of the biggest subjects of our time. Not only is it one of the most complex, but our research shows that people have a hazy knowledge of the science, and so not surprisingly are often confused by the subject. This is why we decided to create a gallery dedicated to climate science: to provide an engaging and fun experience which also gives you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of this subject and make up your own mind.

In the past few years the Science Museum has produced exhibitions and events about climate-change-related topics, as well as displays of green technology. During this time we conducted extensive research into public understanding of and engagement with climate change. The culmination of this has been the development of our new atmosphere gallery.

Question 5:
Where did the information come from for the atmosphere gallery?

As with every new exhibition, the Science Museum worked with a number of expert organisations, institutes and individuals in developing the content for the new gallery. The Met Office has been the principal contributor, and expert advice was received from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.

A climate science advisory panel was set up to offer an expert overview on topics such as climate science, political and economic perspectives on climate change, mitigation and adaption strategies, climate change communications and the history of climate change discourse. Members include scientists, professionals, academics and educators from the UK and abroad.

A group of expert content checkers were also appointed to ensure that all information on the gallery and website is as clear and accurate as possible. It's vital to us that the content is rigorously reviewed to ensure it's the most reliable and up-to-date information for our visitors.

Question 6:
How will the content stay up to date?

Climate, environment and sustainability stories from our science news gallery Antenna will be automatically fed to multimedia displays in the atmosphere gallery, ensuring that you have access to the latest developments in climate science. As the climate science gallery is largely a multimedia experience, the content can easily be updated over time as the science changes. This is similarly true for the associated website, and the ongoing Climate Changing programme of events will also address new developments surrounding the subject.

Question 7:
How is the gallery funded?

The atmosphere ...exploring climate science gallery and three-year Climate Changing programme have been made possible by support from Principal Sponsors Shell and Siemens, Major Sponsor Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Major Funder the Garfield Weston Foundation, with additional support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Patrons of the Science Museum and members of the Founders Circle: Climate Changing programme.

Question 8:
Why has the Science Museum accepted funding from Shell and Siemens?

To be able to remain free and continue our work, the Science Museum relies on external funding and sponsorship. We are grateful for support from a broad supporter 'family' for this project, of which both Shell and Siemens are Principal Sponsors. Individuals, politicians and industry are all part of the climate change issue and are all part of finding solutions. The Museum is grateful for the support of a broad range of industries for a wide variety of programmes, exhibitions and projects. We view all of our sponsorships as important partnerships and have worked with the Principal Sponsors on other successful past projects such as Launchpad (Shell) and Antenna (Siemens).

Question 9:
What influence did sponsors have on the content of the gallery?

The sponsors were kept closely informed of the developing plan for the content and nature of the gallery. However, as for all our galleries and exhibits, the Science Museum retained full editorial control over all of the messages and content.

Question 10:
Did the government play any part in creating the gallery?

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is one of the sponsors of the gallery. The Museum is pleased that the project is supported by a range of different funding bodies, including industry, government, trusts and foundations. As always, the Science Museum retains full editorial control over all of its content.

Question 11:
What is the Science Museum's opinion on climate change?

The Science Museum's role is to provide an enjoyable, informative experience for our visitors which represents current scientific research.

That research, and the majority of the climate science community, has concluded that current climate change is real, mainly human-induced and, despite the remaining uncertainties, constitutes a risk that society needs to address.

We understand that not everyone agrees with the scientific evidence and we are respectful and welcoming of all views on it. The gallery aims to engage with those who accept that human-induced climate change is real, those who are unsure, and those who do not accept this conclusion. We invite you to come to the gallery and make up your own mind.

Question 12:
What about the views of those who don't believe climate change is real or mainly caused by humans?

The atmosphere gallery is based on the conclusions reached by the majority of the scientific community, which is that current climate change is real, mainly human-induced and, despite the remaining uncertainties, constitutes a risk that society needs to address. However, we realise that not everyone shares this opinion. A significant part of the gallery deals with the science which informs our understanding of the climate, for example how the carbon cycle works. This will provide visitors with a basic understanding on which to form their opinions when moving onto more uncertain topics such as what might happen and our future choices. The gallery also forms part of a three-year programme of events including temporary exhibitions and discussion events, where all opinions and perspectives are welcome. You can find more information about what's on and the gallery here.

Question 13:
Is the Science Museum doing anything in response to climate change?

The Science Museum aims to significantly reduce its carbon emissions, to become as environmentally sound as possible. Our short-term aspiration was to reduce our carbon emissions by 10% in 2010, in line with our pledge to support the 10:10 campaign. We are pleased to say that we exceeded our target, reducing our overall carbon footprint by 17% in 2010. We have also recently established an NMSI*-wide Carbon Reduction Working Group and have appointed a Sustainability Manager, who will continue to look for new ways to reduce our carbon emissions, improve our performance and promote a positive impact on society and the environment.

*National Museum of Science & Industry

Question 14:
What is the carbon footprint of the gallery?

The Science Museum employed an independent consultant to estimate the carbon footprint of the atmosphere gallery and the final report can be found here.

Because of the complex nature of supply chains, as well as the limits of carbon emission analysis, this is merely a broad estimate. It places the greenhouse gas footprint of the Climate Science Project at about 2500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent over its five-year lifetime. A breakdown of this figure (into percentages associated with construction, electricity, etc.) and the actions taken by the Museum to reduce the gallery footprint can be found in the report.

Question 15:
Where can I find out more information about the content of the gallery and the Climate Changing programme?

You can find more information by visiting the Climate Changing web pages on the Science Museum's website. This will enable you to keep up to date with galleries, installations and events throughout the three years of the Climate Changing programme. You will also find over 600 pages of clear explanations, including 60 specially created animations, to help answer your questions about climate science.

As part of our Climate Changing programme the Science Museum will be holding a number of thought-provoking and interactive events. Visit the 'What's on' page of the Climate Changing website or the Science Museum's Dana Centre website for up-to-date information on current events and how to get involved.

If you are a school group and would like to arrange a visit to the gallery or access our specially created climate science teaching resources for Key Stages 3 and 4, you can find out more information here.

More information about the atmosphere gallery and Climate Changing programme can be found on the Science Museum's website. However, if you have a query about the gallery or programme which our website has not answered, please feel free to contact us using this form or email