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Science Museum announces Net Zero target and raft of new climate-themed programming as it prepares to reopen on 19 May

  • Science Museum will reopen on 19 May (Government guidelines permitting) with Our Future Planet, the UK’s first significant exhibition about carbon capture and storage including objects on display in the UK for the first time 
  • Science Museum Group announces a target to achieve Net Zero by 2033  
  • Science Museum Group announces latest events for its popular series Climate Talks in the run up to COP26 
  • Science Museum Group launches ‘Our Environment’ theme for online content inspired by its collection in 2021 
  • IMAX: The Ronson Theatre reopens again after a ten-month refurbishment with sustainability at its heart with a programme including BBC Earth’s Antarctica 3D 
  • Free family activities across the summer will be climate-themed and complemented by new learning resources available online 

Today the Science Museum revealed its plans for reopening on 19 May, with an exciting new exhibition and a major focus on sustainability and climate change in its public programme throughout 2021, to coincide with COP26. The Science Museum Group also announced an ambitious target to achieve Net Zero by 2033. 

Museum opening times remain Wednesday–Sunday, 10.00-18.00, outside of school holidays, and visitors will need to book a free, timed ticket online in advance. 

The pioneering Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery will be open to ignite the curiosity of younger visitors, with enhanced cleaning and safety measures and the newly-refurbished IMAX: The Ronson Theatre – home to one of only two screens in Europe to feature the very best of digital and analogue cinema on one screen – will reopen with BBC Earth’s inspiring documentary, Antarctica 3D. From Exploring Space to Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries – the world’s largest medical galleries which opened in November 2019 – visitors will be able to reconnect with the collection in the generous spaces of the permanent galleries. 


Alongside its popular permanent offer, the Science Museum prepares to reopen its doors to the public with the UK’s first significant exhibition to be presented on the subject of carbon capture and storage: Our Future Planet (19 May 2021 – 4 September 2022). This new contemporary science exhibition explores the latest techniques being developed for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – a small but significant part in the fight against climate change. Visitors will get a first look at the cutting-edge technologies and nature-based solutions being developed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with some objects – Klaus Lackner’s Mechanical Tree, the Climeworks Direct Air Capture machine and basalt rock from Iceland containing trapped carbon – never having been displayed in the UK before. The exhibition will explore how we can use these techniques to reduce atmospheric carbon, and how this carbon can be held in mass storage or used to create everyday products like building materials, toothpaste and even vodka. Sustainability has been at the core of the development of the exhibition: the majority of objects have been locally sourced and the exhibition reuses setworks, showcases and AV equipment from previous exhibitions at the museum. More information HERE

Complementing the exhibition, there will be activities, shows and demonstrations to engage all ages with climate science and sustainability, including a free family offer at weekends and school holidays, beginning in July. 


In committing to achieve Net Zero by 2033, the Science Museum Group is reinforcing its commitment to putting sustainability at the heart of its work, alongside engaging its audiences with the science and solutions to the urgent challenges facing our planet. As with all its endeavours, the Group is guided by the science and has signed up to the respected Science Based Targets Initiative to tackle both its direct emissions and those in its supply chain. Full details of how the Group will achieve this are available here.

Sir Ian Blatchford said: 'As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity. As well as engaging our audiences with this grave threat, we need to do more to lessen our own environmental impact, which is why we’re today committing to achieving Net Zero by 2033. This extraordinary year has shown the relevance of science to all our lives so, as we look towards reopening our museums in mid May, we can’t wait to inspire our audiences once again with the ideas and innovations that continue to shape our world, and find solutions for a better future.’ 


Available to book from today are the latest talks for the Science Museum Group’s global event series Climate Talks which aim to lead public engagement with climate science in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. Since launching in January, over 20,000 people worldwide have booked a free ticket or watched an event online, with speakers so far ranging from iconic conservationist Dr Jane Goodall and economist Sir Partha Dasgupta to astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman, musician Brian Eno and Bollywood star Dia Mirza. Streamed online to connect with an expanding global audience, the talks bring together a diverse, distinguished line up of international speakers to confront the most pressing issues around climate science and explore which innovations can really make a difference. Topics for the next wave of events range from the clean energy revolution to how our oceans are responding to climate change, with speakers including journalist Anushka Asthana, Malawian inventor and author William Kamkwamba, The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Former President of the Republic of Kiribati Anote Tong, and many more. Full details HERE


Throughout 2021 new online stories will explore the environment and sustainability through the lens of the incredible Science Museum Group Collection. From space-based climate observation to green transport solutions and the science of our oceans, these richly illustrated articles will weave together historic objects, transformative events and incredible individuals driving environmental innovation. Through exploring the Group’s  online collection, digital visitors will get to discover the thousands of objects, from ground-breaking devices for monitoring the natural world to those which illustrate political, social and personal responses to environmental change.  

Building on the popular Science Museum Group Learning resources, a new hub-page for Climate Learning Resources launches today, including videos, hands-on activities and 3D objects, which will be added to throughout the coming year.  

Ten years after the Science Museum opened its climate science gallery Atmosphere – which has now been visited by more than 5 million people – exploring solutions to the challenges posed by a warming world will be a central theme in the next decade of transformation of the Group, from decarbonisation to enhanced commitments to biodiversity. 

Sustainable practices will inform the design and build of new exhibitions and the Group’s masterplan projects. These include bold plans for the National Railway Museum and Locomotion – where sustainability will be at the heart of major masterplan project Vision 2025 – and at the Science and Industry Museum, which has been awarded £4.3m for a visionary decarbonisation project.

At the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire, construction is now complete of the Group’s most energy efficient building yet, a publicly-accessible collection management facility which will become home to more than 300,000 objects from the Science Museum Group Collection. Nestled within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Collections Centre plays a vital role in the Group’s sustainability activities. Ongoing tree-planting will add to the site’s 30 hectares of native woodlands, with hydrogen and electric cars (and bicycles) used by colleagues to navigate the 545-acre site, which also hosts one of the UK’s largest solar farms. Find out more about sustainability at the NCC.

Find out more about the Science Museum Group and sustainability
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19 May 2021 – 30 August 2021, Free exhibition 
Following a critically-acclaimed run at the National Railway Museum, Brass, Steel and Fire explores a century of model making, and tells the story of the lacemakers, locomotive drivers and engineers who built the modern world from their kitchen tables. The exhibition features several of the oldest model locomotives in the world and provides visitors with a glimpse of the skill, passion and joy found in making the world in miniature. Brass, Steel and Fire is kindly supported by Hornbeam Park Developments and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. 


19 May 2021 – 4 September 2022, Free exhibition 
The first significant UK exhibition to be presented on the subject of carbon capture and storage, Our Future Planet will explore the latest techniques being developed for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – a small but significant part in the fight against climate change. Visitors will discover a range of approaches to removing carbon: from nature-based solutions such as the protection of ancient forests and preserving our peat bogs or planting native trees, to chemical and mechanical processes – many of which are not yet proven at scale – that might help to further reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The exhibition is supported by UKRI (Major Sponsor), Shell (Major Sponsor), the AKO Foundation (Associate Funder) and the Huo Family Foundation (Associate Funder). 


Reopening 19 May 2021, Ticketed cinema 
The Science Museum’s newly revamped IMAX cinema is now one of only two screens in Europe to feature the very best of digital and analogue cinema on one screen, allowing visitors to enjoy newly-released blockbusters, 3D educational films and cinema classics as well as an array of live events, all at the home of science and technology. Families can enjoy BBC Earth’s Antarctica 3D narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch; A Beautiful Planet 3D, narrated by Jennifer Lawrence; and Hubble 3D, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, all in immersive IMAX with Laser in 3D. 

Climate Talks 

Throughout 2021 the Science Museum Group’s public programme of exhibitions and events will have a major focus on sustainability and climate change, reinforcing a commitment to engaging the museums’ physical and digital audiences with the science and solutions to the urgent challenges facing our planet. This includes exhibition Our Future Planet at the Science Museum, Manchester Science Festival hosted by the Science and Industry Museum and online content exploring environmental objects and their incredible stories from the Science Museum Group’s collection. From January 2021 a new event series, Climate Talks, will lead public engagement around climate science within the cultural sector and conclude in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. Streamed online to connect with an expanding global audience, the event series brings together a diverse, distinguished line up of international speakers including climate scientists, astronauts, engineers, industry leaders, activists, journalists, politicians and high-profile cultural figures. Climate Talks confronts the most pressing issues around climate science and explore which innovations can really make a difference in tackling the most urgent threat to planet Earth and humanity. More information can be found here

About the Science Museum Group 

The Science Museum Group is the world’s leading group of science museums, welcoming over five million visitors each year to five sites: the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; and Locomotion in Shildon. We share the stories of innovations and people that shaped our world and are transforming the future, constantly reinterpreting our astonishingly diverse collection of 7.3 million items spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Standout objects include the record-breaking locomotive Flying Scotsman, Richard Arkwright’s textile machinery, Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer and the earliest surviving recording of British television. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, our museums attract more than 600,000 visits by education groups, while our touring exhibition programme brings our creativity and scholarship to audiences across the globe. More information can be found at   

The Science Museum Group and sustainability 

The Science Museum Group (SMG) has been a leader in raising climate awareness through its public programme while the Group’s approach to sustainability has transformed its working practices and collections care. Highlights from the past decade include: 

  • Since 2011/12, SMG has cut direct carbon emissions by 69%, from its operations despite increasing floor area by 24% as a result of mergers and Masterplan developments, and purchases all its electricity from renewable sources (except at the Blythe House object store);
  • In 2005, the Science Museum became the first national museum to install solar panels on its roof; 
  • The National Collections Centre site at Wroughton hosts a solar farm business that generates almost four times the total amount of energy used by the whole of SMG; 
  • We’ve also built a hempcrete storage facility at the National Collections Centre and the site uses two prototype hydrogen fuel cell cars; 
  • The Atmosphere gallery exploring the science of climate change, which opened in 2010, has been seen by more than 5 million people; 
  • In 2019, the Science Museum Group announced fresh commitments to biodiversity including planting at least 1,000 native, locally-sourced trees a year on its estate throughout this decade, joining 43,000 trees already planted at the National Collections Centre; 
  • Biodiversity has also been encouraged by the addition of bee hives at the Science Museum, installing over a hundred bird and bat boxes together with log piles and hibernacula for reptiles and insects at the National Collections Centre, planting wildflowers at Locomotion in County Durham, and extensive new box planting across the Science and Industry Museum’s seven-acre historic city-centre site in Manchester; 
  • Climate change has been a recurrent theme in SMG’s public programme, with exhibitions including: Unlocking Lovelock; The Rubbish Collection, an art installation made of waste; Luke Jerram’s spectacular artwork Gaia, as part of the National Science and Media Museum’s Hello Universe exhibition; and the Lovelock Art Commissons for Manchester Science Festival: The Sounds of Others: A Biophonic Line with artist Marcus Coates and Cape Farewell (2014); Evaporation with artist Tania Kovats and Cape Farewell (2015) and Cloud Crash with Nerc / Cape Farewell and artists HeHe (2016/17). 

Find out more about Sustainability and the Science Museum Group.

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