Following five months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the longest period of closure since the second world war, the Science Museum reopens its doors to the public today (Wednesday 19 August 2020). Visitors will once again be able to explore stories of the incredible ingenuity and scientific and technological advances that have helped humanity overcome challenges throughout history.
Providing a safe, welcoming and enjoyable experience is the museum’s priority. Visitors must book free, timed tickets online allowing the museum to manage visitor flow as part of steps to ensure social distancing in line with Government guidance. Visitors will receive a pre-visit email including a video illustrating changes to the visitor experience to ensure an enjoyable and safe day out, and detailed guidance is also available on our website.
Enhanced cleaning regimes are in operation, protective screens installed to all main reception points, ticket and information desks, and hand sanitiser stations located throughout the museum. Contactless e-scanners are in place to scan tickets upon entry to the museum and visitors are asked to make contactless payments where possible. Visitors are required to wear face coverings, in line with government guidance. Self-guided routes and social distancing guidelines are in place across the museum with clear signage to help visitors have a relaxed visit.
The pioneering Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery is open featuring interactive exhibits and live socially-distanced science demos to ignite the curiosity of younger visitors, with enhanced cleaning and safety measures. From Exploring Space to Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries – the world’s largest medical galleries which opened in November 2019 – visitors can re-connect with the collection in the generous spaces of the permanent galleries. The popular temporary exhibition Driverless: Who is in control? exploring the impact of autonomous technology on our lives, has been extended to January 2021.
The autumn’s new programming will include touring exhibition Brass, Steel and Fire and a special commemoration of the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30th anniversary. Exploring solutions to the challenges posed by a warming world will be a central theme in the next decade of transformation of the Science Museum, including the UK’s first significant exhibition exploring carbon capture technologies, now opening on 31 March 2021 to coincide with COP26, the 26th United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow in November 2021.
Director of the Science Museum Group, Sir Ian Blatchford, said: ‘After five months of closure, we’re delighted to reopen our doors, safely welcome back visitors and ignite their curiosity again. This pandemic reminds us of the importance of reflecting on the world around us, and our impact on it. In the run-up to the COP26 climate summit, we’ll be focusing on the challenges facing our planet and the work of the scientists and innovators seeking solutions.’
The Science Museum’s Exhibition Road neighbours, the Natural History Museum and the V&A reopened their doors on 5 and 6 August respectively. The three museums have staggered opening dates and times to reduce footfall on Exhibition Road and ease visitor flow at nearby underground stations.
South Kensington is London’s home of arts and science – the original cultural quarter since its foundation 175 years ago – providing free access to astonishingly diverse collections held on behalf of the nation, all within a stone’s throw of each other. At a time when ideas, curiosity and connection to nature have never been more important, the three South Kensington museums have all bases covered. Galleries, exhibitions and experiences span art, design, performance, fashion, science, technology, engineering, medicine and the wonders of the natural world. Visitors can welcome culture back into their lives and enjoy fantastic days out in wide open, safe spaces they can reclaim as their own.
The museums are collaborating with their two local authorities, local businesses and more than a dozen other cultural institutions to improve provision for cyclists and pedestrians and take other steps to ensure South Kensington offers the same vibrant experiences supported by all the reassuring safety measures.
Across the Science Museum Group, Locomotion in Shildon was the first to welcome visitors back on 28 July, followed by the National Railway Museum in York on 4 August, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester on 14 August. The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford also opens today, on 19 August, along with the Science Museum, London.
Science Museum opening times will remain 10.00-18.00, 7 days a week from 19 August–6 September, after which opening times will be subject to change.
The Energy Café (Ground floor), Shake Bar (Level 3), and main shop will be open.
Visitors can also look forward to the much-anticipated opening of the Science Museum’s newly refurbished IMAX: The Ronson Theatre, bringing with it the best of digital and analogue cinema side by side, scheduled for December 2020.
And while we’re thrilled to be opening our doors to visitors once again, our collection – and the inspirational stories it contains – remains open online to inspire those who are unable to travel to the museum. Online audiences can discover fascinating stories behind the everyday technologies in our homes, from light bulbs and hoovers to cups of tea and hammers.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Free, timed tickets are available to book at sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/welcome-back.
For further information or to arrange interviews contact PressOffice.ScM@ScienceMuseum.ac.uk or 020 7942 4886, which will redirect you to the duty press officer. Images can be downloaded via this link: https://we.tl/t-NyvuoPh3vp
About the temporary exhibition programme
Brass, Steel and Fire [opening October 2020]
Celebrating the ingenuity of the 19th and early 20th century craftsmen, instrument makers and model engineers, Brass, Steel and Fire will open in London in October 2020 following a critically-acclaimed opening at the National Railway Museum. Further details to be announced. Brass, Steel and Fire is kindly supported by Hornbeam Park Developments and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Carbon capture exhibition [31 March 2021 – October 2022]
The Science Museum will open a new free exhibition about carbon capture. The first significant UK exhibition to be presented on the subject of carbon capture and storage, it will explore the latest techniques being developed for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. The exhibition is kindly supported by the Huo Family Foundation as part of their commitment to invest in education. More information at: https://bit.ly/3kYnnIX
Driverless: Who is in control? [extended until 5 Jan 2021]
For decades, autonomous vehicles have been heralded as a new technology that could change the way we live our lives. From self-driving cars to autonomous flying drones and smart underwater vehicles like the Autosub Long Range fleet which includes ‘Boaty McBoatface’, Driverless: Who is in control? explores how close we are to living in a world driven by thinking machines. More information at: https://bit.ly/3kXAzhk. Driverless is supported by MathWorks (Principle Sponsor) and Direct Line Group (Major Sponsor) and PwC (Major Sponsor) and Samsung Electronics UK (Technology Partner).
About the COVID-19 collecting project
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic our curators are actively – and with great sensitivity – researching stories and identifying objects to collect on the nation’s behalf. These items will join the Science Museum Group Collection, providing a permanent record for future generations of medical, scientific, industrial, cultural and personal responses to the outbreak and chronicling its impact on society. More information at: https://bit.ly/3hfQZ2g
About the Science Museum Group
The Science Museum Group is the world’s leading alliance 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 Science and Industry Museum 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 our futures, 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 equipment used by John Logie Baird to transmit the first ever television pictures.
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 and websites bring our creativity and scholarship to audiences across the globe.
About the Science Museum Group Collection
The Science Museum Group cares for an astonishingly diverse and internationally significant collection of 7.3 million items from science, technology, engineering, medicine, transport and media. Tracing its origins back to the 1851 Great Exhibition, the collection tells the story of our world—from the rise of the Indus Valley civilisation over 3,000 years ago to the microchips powering our connected planet today.
Over 325,000 historic objects, photographs and archive materials from the Science Museum Group Collection can be discovered through our online collection, from typewriters and trains to magic lantern slides, orreries, surgical tools and even retro videogame cassettes. Many of these items have only recently been published online, part of an ambitious five-year project to give you unprecedented access to the collection. Find out more at: sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/about-us/collection/
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.