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South Kensington Celebrates with a Festival of Chemistry

To celebrate 150 years of the Periodic Table of the Elements in 2019, the Science Museum, the V&A, Imperial College London, Royal College of Art, Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and Royal Society of Chemistry are holding a festival of chemistry in South Kensington, London.

The festival, which takes place during the UN’s International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, will include family-friendly activities at the Science Museum and Imperial College London and two one-day academic conferences exploring the history of chemistry and its future. The Science Museum will also unveil a new display about the Periodic Table and host a chemistry-themed Lates as part of the festival.

Families will be able to take part in free chemistry-themed activities, from a new explosive science show to hands-on workshops and family storytelling, every weekend at the Science Museum until 28 April and daily during February half term and the Easter holidays. A chemistry-themed family day will take place on 23 March, enabling families to take part in activities with chemistry professionals and to rehearse and perform a song inspired by the periodic table with the Girls' Choir of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, live in the Science Museum.

Dmitri Mendeleev’s first published periodic table will go on display in the Science Museum alongside a collection of over 50 elements once owned by Napoleon’s nephew, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte. This free new display celebrating the Periodic Table of Elements will open on 6 March, the date Mendeleev’s periodic table was announced in 1869.

The Science Museum will host a chemistry-themed Lates in partnership with Imperial College London and the Royal Society of Chemistry, giving adults the opportunity to explore chemistry and the museum afterhours on 24 April.

Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum Group said: ‘As a chemist myself, I hope people of all ages will discover and explore the wonders of chemistry through this exciting festival. From explosive family science shows to a chemistry-themed Lates and the rare chance to see the first published periodic table at the Science Museum, the festival provides the perfect opportunity to delve into this enigmatic science.’

At Imperial College London, school children can be ‘real chemists’ for the day, taking in part in activities in the Department of Chemistry as part of the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry. Dr Peter Wothers, the 2012 Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer, will also be giving demonstrations of the chemistry of the elements to the public at Imperial College London.

The Royal College of Art will host tours of the Colour Reference Library on 10 April, giving visitors of all ages the opportunity to see one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of colour-related publications in the world.

A one-day academic conference, Chemistry in Albertopolis, will explore the 150-year history of chemistry in South Kensington and examine the people and institutions who made chemistry part of intellectual and public life in the area. The conference will be jointly hosted by the Science Museum and Imperial College London on 11 April. The following day, the Chemistry Futures 2040 event will explore cutting-edge science in chemistry, presenting provocative visions, technological breakthroughs and the potential discipline evolution.

Ends

Further information about the activities taking place during the festival of chemistry can be found below or online at discoversouthken.com/itinerary/chemistry-festival.

Festival activities for families

Marvellous Mistakes
Storytelling for ages 3-6
Science Museum

Find out how chemistry mistakes brought us some of the most colourful, loud and lifesaving inventions in our family storytelling. Takes place every weekend until 28 April 2019 and daily during February half term (16–24 February) and the Easter holiday (6–22 April 2019) at the Science Museum. 

Cracking Chemistry
Interactive science show for ages 6+
Science Museum

Discover the wonderful world of chemistry in this explosive show. With experiments including everything from party balloons to cake, we promise you’ll have a blast. Takes place every weekend until 28 April 2019 and daily during February half term (16–24 February) and the Easter holiday (6–22 April 2019) at the Science Museum. 

It’s a Chem-mystery!
Hands-on workshop for ages 6+
Science Museum

Complete chemical experiments to solve a mystery and win a prize. Takes place every weekend until 28 April 2019 and daily during February half term (16–24 February) and the Easter holiday (6–22 April 2019) at the Science Museum. 

Tomorrow’s World Live: Can a sustainable future be colourful?
19–21 February 2019 (11.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00 each day)
Science Museum

Meet the scientists inspired by shimmering berries and glittering bugs to create environmentally friendly colour, without the need for hazardous artificial dyes.

150 years of the Periodic Table of Elements
6 March–December 2019
Science Museum

A new free display at the Science Museum will celebrate the Periodic Table of Elements, opening 150 years to the day since Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table was announced in 1869. The display will include a Russian journal containing Mendeleev’s first published periodic table and a collection of over 50 elements once owned by Napoleon’s nephew, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte.

Family Day
23 March 2019
Science Museum

On Saturday 23 March the Science Museum will host a free chemistry-themed family day, featuring workshops delivered by chemistry professionals and family activities: Marvellous Mistakes, Cracking Chemistry and It’s a Chem-mystery! Families can also hear live performances from the Girls' Choir of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and even rehearse and sing a periodic table-themed song with the choir live in the museum. This is part of the choir's STEM in SONG project, which encourages young girls to engage in the STEM subjects through music.

Lecture demonstration by Dr Peter Wothers on the chemical elements
10 April 2019
Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Imperial College London

Pete Wothers has been involved in engaging young people in chemistry for over 15 years. He gave the 2012 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, The Modern Alchemist and fronts the chemistry lectures for the Cambridge Science Festival. For more information please contact Amna Siddiq on amna.siddiq@imperial.ac.uk.

The Order of Colour: Visit to the Colour Reference Library, Royal College of Art
10 April 2019, 10.30–11.30 or 15.00–16.00
RCA Library, Frayling Building, Kensington Gore, London

A rare opportunity to see treasures and ephemera from the Colour Reference Library, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of colour-related publications in the world. Visitors will be introduced to a range of historical systems and schemes for representing and organising colour, including hand-coloured materials, and these will be contrasted with commercial samples and ephemeral schemes devised after the advent of synthetic dyes. From the ‘White of the Human Eyeballs’ to the ‘Mauve Potato Flower’, this session will explore the challenges of describing and organising colour and the long quest to pin it down. 

Free tickets are available for the 10.30–11.30 or 15.00–16.00 sessions. 

Festival activities for adults

Chemistry in Albertopolis
11 April 2019
Science Museum and Imperial College London

Hosted by the Science Museum and Imperial College London, this one-day academic conference will explore the 150-year history of chemistry in South Kensington. The conference will feature sessions and tours celebrating the institutions which helped make chemistry a key facet of intellectual and public life in this area. For further information and to book a place visit sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/chemistry-albertopolis-conference.

Chemistry Futures 2040
12 April 2019
Molecular Sciences Research Hub, Imperial College London White City

Following Chemistry in Albertopolis, Chemistry Futures 2040 will explore cutting-edge science in chemistry, presenting provocative visions, technological breakthroughs and the potential discipline evolution. The event will be hosted at Imperial College London’s new Molecular Sciences Research Hub at White City, showcasing startups, industry perspectives, new tools and emerging scientists of the field.

Chemistry Lates
24 April, 18.30–22.00
Science Museum

The Science Museum will host a chemistry-themed Lates in partnership with Imperial College London and the Royal Society of Chemistry, giving adults the opportunity to explore chemistry and the museum afterhours on 24 April from 18.30–22.00. Free tickets and further information will be available from sciencemuseum.org.uk/lates in April.