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Science Museum opens spectacular interactive gallery to inspire wonder in a new generation

The Science Museum today marks the opening of Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery, its most ambitious interactive gallery ever, which invites visitors to think like a scientist.

'I was one of the first visitors to the original Children’s Gallery, which opened back in 1931, and can still remember the wonderful door that opened before I had even reached it.'

—Sir David Attenborough on the Museum's pioneering gallery

  • Science Museum launches Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery, the UK’s biggest interactive science gallery, filled with specially-commissioned exhibits and artworks, live science shows and explosive demonstrations
  • Great science minds reveal how visits to the Science Museum as children stirred their curiosity and inspired their lives in science
  • Celebrities and the public share their wonders as Sir David Attenborough lends his voice to a short film celebrating the power of wonder and curiosity

The £6 million permanent gallery features unique exhibits, specially-commissioned artworks, explosive demonstrations and immersive experiences led by the Museum's talented team of science communicators, Explainers, to inspire visitors of all ages to wonder at the science and mathematics that shape our lives.

‘As part of a family holiday when I was 7 years old (coming to London from Sheffield seemed a long way then) we made a special trip to the Science Museum. Just exploring science for fun was something I had not experienced before. I am sure that set the grounds for a life that just cannot be without science.’

—Dr Helen Sharman, Science Museum Fellow and first Briton in space

The Museum's goal is to see 200,000 young people in school groups visit the gallery for free each year, twice as many as the previous interactive gallery could accommodate. Other visitors will be able to buy an annual pass from £10, allowing unlimited entry to the gallery for 12 months, or a day ticket from £6. Since June, almost 30,000 visitors have already booked on schools visits to Wonderlab.

With over 50 exhibits across seven zones, visitors to the gallery will explore the incredible phenomena that occur around us every day, with topics as diverse as sound, forces, light, electricity, maths, matter and space. Wonderlab is also home to three live demonstration areas and a 120-capacity showspace inspired by the Royal Institution’s world-renowned Faraday Theatre.

‘I first came to the Science Museum in 1926 when I was about six years old and loved it, and kept coming back. In fact, the only place I found as a youngster that would give me ideas that were the source of inventions was the Science Museum.’

—James Lovelock, the greatest independent scientist of the 20th century

Among the gallery’s many highlights, visitors can ride on a giant rotating model of the solar system to learn why we have seasons, experience forces on a large friction slide, and take part in live science shows full of electricity, rockets, space and more.

Science Museum Group Director, Ian Blatchford, said:

‘The Science Museum Group’s core purpose is to ignite curiosity in our visitors. We’re confident we will do this in spades with Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery—a perfect mix of curatorial flair, scientific clout and joyous imagination.’

The Museum today also launches a short film celebrating the power of a child’s wonder, featuring the inspirational voice of Sir David Attenborough. Meanwhile, taking the gallery’s lead and inviting the public to share their wonders are a number of famous faces including Sir Patrick Stewart, Pharrell Williams, Professor Brian Cox, Lauren Laverne, Theo James, NASA’s Charlie Bolden and Olympians Jonny and Alistair Brownlee. Visit the Science Museum’s YouTube channel.

‘I have very happy memories as a young child being enthralled by the interactive gallery in the Science Museum. The power of pressing buttons and seeing the exhibits come to life was really exciting—and I remember running from one to the next. Of course things are much more sophisticated now with Wonderlab providing interactive experiences beyond anything we imagined.’

—Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering

The gallery is designed by award-winning practice muf architecture/art, which is renowned for working with artists on innovative projects celebrating the social and playful aspects of public spaces.

Wonderlab Curator, Toby Parkin, said:

‘We set out designing Wonderlab to reveal the wonder and beauty in science and maths and to get our visitors to think like a scientist with close attention, curiosity and creativity. It’s been a real joy to work with talented architects and artists to put these ideas at the heart of everything from the most spectacular exhibits in the gallery right down to the smallest details in the furniture. I’m incredibly excited to see our visitors flood in and hopefully come back to explore Wonderlab for years to come.’

Tickets are available to book now, online or on 0333 241 4000, and school groups can book a trip to the gallery through the Museum’s Education booking line on 0207 942 4777.

The Science Museum is the most visited museum in the UK for booked school groups, with 380,000 young people visiting last year. For Wonderlab, the Museum is working with IntoUniversity, Gingerbread and Family Action to increase free access for disadvantaged young people, children and families in difficult circumstances. Find out more about the Science Museum Group’s work with children and young people.

Statoil is the Title Sponsor of Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery and URENCO is Major Sponsor. The gallery has additional support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Simon and Kate Reid alongside Science Museum investment made possible by a loan from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

This Book Thinks You’re a Scientist, a special book to accompany the gallery, featuring activities, experiments and hand-drawn illustrations is published by Thames and Hudson. The book has an RRP of £8.95 and is available to buy from the Science Museum Shop.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Entry to the Science Museum remains free, giving access to the galleries that display the Museum's permanent collections, comprising more than 90% of the museum. This will not change; free access to the permanent collections of national museums is Government policy.

Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery is 60% larger than the Museum’s previous interactive gallery, Launchpad. Thanks to the increased capacity, the Museum is able to set ambitious targets to double, to 200,000, the number of schoolchildren visiting its principal interactive gallery each year within the first three years of opening.

About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement.

About Statoil

Statoil is an international energy company with operations in around 40 countries. As the largest overseas supplier of oil and gas to the United Kingdom, Statoil is stepping up its investments in the UK, developing the Mariner oil field offshore Aberdeen as the largest investment on the UK continental shelf in a decade. Statoil is gradually complementing its oil and gas portfolio with profitable renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions. The company’s UK offshore wind business has the long-term potential to provide low carbon power to more than 5 million British homes. Statoil gives its support to talented young people in sport, culture and education, helping them to become the Heroes of Tomorrow. The success of Statoil is down to individuals with the ability and desire to think outside the box. Individuals who strive to make the impossible possible. Individuals with the skills and determination to achieve remarkable results. It is individuals like these who hold the key to a successful future—the heroes of tomorrow. Statoil has approximately 22,000 employees worldwide, and is listed on the New York and Oslo stock exchanges.

About URENCO

URENCO is a leading provider of uranium enrichment services to the world’s nuclear energy industry. With plants in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and in the USA, it operates in a pivotal area of the nuclear fuel supply chain which enables the sustainable generation of electricity for consumers around the world. Through URENCO’s science brand ambassador, Richie, URENCO connects with young audiences teaching them about energy topics in an engaging, fun and educational way. The sponsorship of Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery complements its ethos of nurturing an interest in science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) subjects.

About muf architecture/art

muf is an internationally recognised practice, whose work is a collaboration between art and architecture. Projects range from urban design schemes to small-scale temporary interventions via landscapes and buildings—a continual dialogue between detail and strategy. Interested in the design of public spaces, and in making spaces public, muf are the only UK winners of the European Prize for Public Space (for Barking Town Square), and were the authors of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2010. With a studio in East London they have worked on many projects local to their practice as well as abroad, including urban strategies in the cities of Pittsburgh, Cologne and Gothenburg. muf’s approach is open-ended, process driven and experimental. Current projects include: White Hart Lane in the shadow of the stadium, the design of Wellcome Collection’s Bedlam: Beyond the Asylum, ongoing work with the V&A, and the communal spaces inside and out for the new Tower Court estate with Hackney Council. muf architecture/art was established in 1995 and has never had less than 80% female members, including founding partners Katherine Clarke and Liza Fior.

About Discover South Kensington

Discover South Kensington brings together the Science Museum and other leading cultural and educational organisations to promote innovation and learning. South Kensington is the home of science, arts and inspiration. Discovery is at the core of what happens here and there is so much to explore every day.