Moving up a gear

Serious, ambitious, determined: it’s time for the Science Museum Group to punch its weight, says Ian Blatchford, Director, Science Museum Group.

Our five museums are moving up a gear. It’s time for the Science Museum Group to punch its weight, because the nation’s future prosperity and quality of life depend on an urgent commitment to science and technology. The Group should flourish as a flagship for the best that a rational explanation of our world can offer. The following essential themes will underpin the next decade.

1. The Group must push its audiences harder. So we are ditching the commercial 'science-light' special exhibitions to focus on real science.

2. Families and school children have long been our most loyal audience. But we cannot help to forge a society more in tune with science unless we embrace the engaged adult too. Our museums will become forums for debating the future.

3. The UK’s Science Museum Group is behaving like a confident international body again. Science is a global enterprise and our programmes will thrive if they are plugged into the global community.

Science Museum Group Director Ian Blatchford with Stephenson's Rocket at the Science Museum, London

4. A major milestone this year has given the Group impressive national reach. The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (MOSI) joined this alliance of key museums in London, York, Bradford and Shildon, and expanded the Group’s audience beyond 5 million visits a year. Ours is now the most significant grouping of science museums in the world.

5. We need to celebrate our collections, because they are the keystone of a museum’s credibility. The Group cares for more than 7 million artefacts which form one of the most iconic collections for science, technology, medicine, media and engineering in the world. We intend to recapture our reputation for scholarship and research.

6. Ultimately, the Science Museum Group rejects the idea of science and culture leading parallel lives. Our kaleidoscopic collections show so vividly that science has always been part of culture. The collections are an epic story about civilisation and human ingenuity. Those who care about science urge us to move up a gear, and realise our extraordinary potential.