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Science Museum Group takes fight against antibiotic resistance to global stage

  • Science Museum Group to tour new versions of Superbugs exhibition to eight venues across India and China
  • In partnership with Guangdong Science Center in China and the National Council of Science Museums in India, the exhibition will reach 1.2 million people over 2 years
  • The tour has been made possible with support from Wellcome

The Science Museum Group is taking its Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives exhibition on an international tour across India and China to help address the lack of public awareness and understanding about antibiotic resistance. In partnership with the National Council of Science Museums in India and Guandong Science Center in Guangzhou, China, new versions of the exhibition, specially developed for each country, will visit eight venues and reach over one million people within two years.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said: “Thanks to the National Council of Science Museums in India and Guandong Science Center in China, as well as the support of Wellcome and the British Council in India, our Superbugs exhibition will reach important new audiences and help address misconceptions about antibiotics and the enormous challenge of antibiotic resistance.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing issues facing the globe today and my hope is that this is just the beginning of a world-wide exhibition tour that will engage people in many countries."

Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives explores humanity's response to the unprecedented global threat of antibiotic resistance. Thanks to the support of Wellcome and the British Council in India, a bespoke version of the exhibition will be created for both India and China, with input from local curators, research facilities, universities and hospitals. The tour will be supported by a specially developed events programme, new educational resources and workshops.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, no longer respond to the drugs used to treat them, including antibiotics. Today these untreatable superbugs kill almost 700,000 people a year, and by 2050 this figure could rise to 10 million. Examining antibiotic resistance on a microscopic, human and global scale, this exhibition features remarkable scientific research from across the globe and reveals the personal stories of those waging war on superbugs. The exhibition also prompts visitors to act on an individual level, with the fight again these superbugs requiring individual participation to help protect the future of human health. 

According to Simon Chaplin, Director, Culture & Society at Wellcome, “At a time when more than 700,000 people die each year from drug-resistant infections, and rising, it is vitally important to find new treatments, reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and engage the public with this complex issue. Wellcome is committed to tackling what has become one of the biggest global health challenges facing the world today, and so we are delighted to support the Superbugs exhibition and to see countries working together as it tours to India and China.”

Arijit D Choudhury, Director General of the National Council of Science Museums in India said, “Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives will be very relevant in India, where AMR poses a major risk to public health. Improving awareness and public understanding of AMR through effective communication, education and training is one of the key strategies to fighting the issue. The project will further strengthen the bond between the two leading Science Museum networks in India and the UK.”

Lu Jinggui, Director General of Guangdong Science Center, said, “The co-curating and touring of the Superbugs exhibition with the Science Museum Group will be an effective way for Guangdong Science Center to participate in the public communication of a global issue and fulfil our social responsibility. This project will create a bridge between science museums in the UK and China and establish a model for UK-China scientific and cultural exchange.” 

Mr. Alan Gemmell OBE, Director – India, British Council said “Scientific collaboration has been at the heart of the UK-India relationship and at the heart of our work in India. We’re delighted to support the Science Museum’s India tour of Superbugs.  We’ve been inspired by India every day of the last 70 years and we hope Superbugs will inspire young people across India to tackle one of the most critical challenges of our time.” 

The Superbugs: The Fight for Our Lives international tour, in partnership with Guandong Science Center in China and the National Council of Science Museums in India, will begin in China in spring 2019. The tour has been made possible with support from Wellcome (Principal Funder) and additional support from the British Council in India and the BEIS Rutherford Fund. 

An electronic blueprint version of the Superbugs exhibition is also available to venues around the world to create their own unique exhibition experience, customised for local audiences. Further information about Science Museum Group touring exhibitions is available here.


Note to editors

For further information please contact:
Robert James, Science Museum Press Office, 020 7942 4401 or email  

What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics are chemicals made by bacteria and fungi to kill other bacteria. These naturally occurring medicines have been widely used since the 1940s to treat everything from tuberculosis and syphilis to sore throats. As antibiotic use has increased, bacteria have evolved resistance to specific antibiotics rendering them ineffective. This enables infections to persist, resulting in longer illnesses and more deaths. Bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics are known as superbugs. 

Today, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. 

Alexander Fleming discovered the first widely-used antibiotic, Penicillin, in 1928. Penicillin was the first antibiotic to be mass produced, thanks to Nobel prize-winning research by Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and Oxford University and the efforts of several pharmaceutical companies. By that time, Fleming and others were already predicting the rise of superbugs.  

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 diverse collection. 

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

About Science Museum Group touring exhibitions
Superbugs and other inspiring exhibitions from across the Science Museum Group are available to hire and display at venues around the world. For further information visit:

About the National Council of Science Museums
National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), a premiere institution in the field of science communication, is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India with its headquarters in Kolkata. Reaching 15 million visitors annually, NCSM is a national and international leader in popularizing science and technology, primarily through its science centres, Mobile Science Exhibitions (MSE) units that visit rural schools, and wide-ranging public engagement activities, particularly for students. NCSM administers and manages the world’s largest network of science centres, with 25 science museums/centres spread across India. The centres include 24 Innovation Hubs, with 26 more under development, providing expert guidance and professional lab equipment facilities reaching 10,000 students annually to nurture creativity, innovation and engagement in science.

About Guandong Science Center in Guangzhou
Guangdong Science Center (GDSC) has reached 16 million visitors since opening in 2008. GDSC is a large comprehensive science museum focusing on its four functions of popular science education: showcasing science and technology achievements; academic exchange and science touring; serving as a major venue for science education in China and Asia and representing national “Green Architecture”. GDSC has 12 permanent exhibition halls with over 480 exhibits and an outdoor Exploration Park featuring a lake and more than 60 classic science exhibits integrating nature, science and art.      

About Wellcome
Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive.  We're a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate. 

About the British Council in India
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. The British Council has been working with India since 1948.In 2018 we are marking the 70th  anniversary with a series of events celebrating cultural relations and exchange between the UK and India.

About the BEIS Rutherford Fund
The Rutherford Fund, a £117 million fund by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, was established in 2017 to attract highly skilled researchers to the UK. The Rutherford Fund deepens international engagement and encourages skills exchanges with all countries including emerging international research powerhouses such as India, China, Brazil and Mexico.