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Science Museum to reopen as NHS vaccination centre a year after closure due to COVID-19

On Thursday 11 March the Science Museum will reopen as an NHS vaccination centre, enabling thousands of Londoners to receive their COVID-19 vaccination in the historic surroundings of the museum. The NHS vaccination centre will open a year after the Science Museum first closed due to COVID-19 and as preparations are underway for a new coronavirus-focused exhibit which will go on display once the museum reopens. 

Thousands of individuals are expected to be vaccinated each week by NHS medical professionals, supported by staff from the museum. Vaccinations will take place in Special Exhibition Gallery 1, a vast temporary exhibition space where thousands of artefacts, including a nuclear fusion reactor, historic robots and the spacecraft flown by the first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, have previously been displayed. 

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see part of the Science Museum repurposed for this country's most pressing task in a generation, vaccinating the adult population. Uniquely, our museum can both tell the story of how vaccination has saved millions of lives, and also play a part in ensuring vaccines protect the nation from COVID-19. It is an extraordinary sensation to be collecting and living history all at once.’

The Science Museum is the first national museum in the UK to host a vaccination centre and support the NHS mass vaccination programme in this way. Providing this vital public service is an important part of the Science Museum Group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has included producing engaging learning resources for home-schooling, hosting virtual talks on climate change and identifying objects for our COVID-19 Collecting project.

The empty vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines used for the first vaccinations worldwide were donated by NHS England to the Science Museum Group Collection. The vials, COVID-19 testing kits and signage from the Government’s daily briefings will form part of a new COIVD-19 display in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries – the world’s largest galleries devoted to the history of medicine – when the Science Museum reopens in May 2021 (restrictions permitting).  

Once the museum reopens, the public and those visiting for vaccinations will be able to study the vials, alongside a timeline of key objects from the history of vaccination and displays about other infectious diseases such as ebola, polio and the plague.

Prototype medical devices, coronavirus-themed greetings cards, homemade masks and many other items – including some from the vaccination centre itself – will also join the collection, providing a permanent record for future generations of medical, scientific, industrial, cultural and personal responses to the outbreak and its impact on society.

ENDS

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Naomi Burgoyne, Head of PR, via naomi.burgoyne@sciencemuseum.ac.uk and 07894 317849, or Will Stanley, Collection Communication Manager, via will.stanley@sciencemuseum.ac.uk or 07900 950388.

The operation of the NHS vaccination centre at the Science Museum, including appointments and bookings, is managed by the NHS. Please direct any media queries relating to the NHS vaccination programme to NHS England. 

Only people who are invited to have a vaccine can book an appointment, which can be done through the NHS website or via calling 119 free of charge. 

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Science Museum 
Tracing its origins from the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Science Museum has pioneered interactive science interpretation for more than eight decades and is the most visited museum in the UK by school groups. Part of the Science Museum Group, 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. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. 

In 2019, the museum opened the largest medicine galleries in the world: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries, home to 3,000 historic objects displayed across five vast galleries. 

Throughout the pandemic, the Science Museum has supported home schooling through its popular learning resources, and been at the forefront of public engagement with the science of coronavirus through a hugely popular coronavirus blog series written by the Science Museum Group’s Science Director Roger Highfield and through its public programme, adapted to offer online events covering topics from climate change to vaccine hesitancy: on 24 February, the museum hosted a popular online event featuring UK’s COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP and Dr Anthony Fauci. 

Our curators have been sensitively identifying items to be added to the Science Museum Group Collection as part of our COVID-19 collecting project to provide a permanent record for future generations of medical,  scientific, cultural and personal responses to the outbreak and chronicling its impact on society.  Recent acquisitions include the historic empty vials from the first Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca mass vaccinations worldwide.

About Special Exhibition Gallery 1
Special Exhibition Gallery 1 is a large temporary exhibition space within the Science Museum which has previously hosted major exhibitions about the Sun, robots and space exploration.   

The Sun: Living With our Star enabled visitors to discover the incredible story of our closest star. From 3,000-year-old artefacts to upcoming space missions and a nuclear fusion reactor, this exhibition took visitors on a visual journey that explored the fascinating story of humankind’s relationship with our closest star.

Robots explored the 500-year story of humanoid robots and the artistic and scientific quest to understand what it means to be human, featuring a unique collection of over 100 robots, from a 16th-century mechanical monk to robots from science fiction and modern-day research labs.

Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age examined the dramatic story of how Russia turned the dream of space travel into a reality and became the first nation to explore space. The exhibition featured the most significant collection of Russian spacecraft and artefacts ever to be seen in the UK, including Vostok 6, the spacecraft flown by the first woman in space.

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. discoversouthken.com.     

Part of the Science Museum Group