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Turn It Up: The power of music comes to the science museum

  • Turn It Up: The power of music, the interactive new exhibition exploring music's mysterious hold over us, will open at the Science Museum from 19 October 2023, ahead of half term.
  • Following a successful run at the Science and Industry Museum, it explores the intersection between creativity and science to show how innovators and musicians are expanding the possibilities of music-making.
  • This family-favourite allows visitors to play with beat, melody and harmony.
  • The vibrant and dynamic exhibition comes to London full of intriguing objects, musical commissions and interactive experiences, alongside personal stories and 35 scientific studies investigating music’s effects on our minds and bodies.
  • The opening will be celebrated with Music Lates—a special edition of the Science Museum’s adults-only, after-hours event—exploring the universal draw of music.
Visitors enjoying Turn It Up: The power of music at the Science and Industry Museum
Visitors enjoying Turn It Up: The power of music at the Science and Industry Museum © Science Museum Group  

Turn It Up: The power of music
19 October 2023 – 6 May 2024
Ticketed, £10

Turn It Up: The power of music, the interactive exhibition exploring music's mysterious hold over us, will open at the Science Museum from 19 October 2023. It transfers to London following its hugely successful run at the Science and Industry Museum.

Through specially commissioned interactive installations, unique instruments and pioneering inventions, first-hand accounts from musicians and the public, and more than 30 research studies—visitors can discover the why behind music’s impact on our emotions, our psychology and our wellbeing. Turn It Up: The power of music also investigates what the future holds for melody-making from some of the ways in which AI is being deployed to how technological advancements are being used to develop more accessible ways to create music.

Lead Curator Steven Leech said: ‘We are excited to bring Turn It Up to London and bring to life the mystery of music and the incredible ways that it impacts all aspects of our lives. Although we know that some people may lack confidence when making music, we hope visitors will discover through this exhibition that we really are all musical.’  

Guest Curator Dr Emily Scott-Dearing added: ‘Music is both a seemingly unremarkable part of everyday life and an incredibly powerful force. Through this lively, hands-on, ears-open, immersive experience, we hope visitors will have heaps of fun, and come away thinking about their own relationship with music in a way they never have before.’

Visitors will begin their journey through Turn It Up: The power of music by exploring how individual our relationships with music are. Historic music players are complemented by newer devices and people’s musical memories. A film sees artists from Elton John to Anne-Marie recount their childhood music memories. 

This hands-on exhibition reveals that there is no right or wrong way to make music. Visitors can discover their inner music-maker and play with beat, melody and harmonies in a specially commissioned Musical Playground or assemble Lego-style Musical Building Blocks to experiment with different instruments, pitch and tempo when creating their own masterpiece. 

Turn It Up: The power of music provides visitors with a chance to learn more about how technology is changing the way music is made so that experiencing it is more accessible for everyone. Pioneering musical inventions will be on display throughout the exhibition, including the MiMU gloves invented by Imogen Heap and used by Ariana Grande and Kris Halpin, which uses gestures to control electronic music-making software. Musician Liza Bec invented the Robo-recorder, also on display, when they developed a rare type of epilepsy triggered by certain ways their fingers moved when playing an instrument. 

Professional trumpeter, Clarence Adoo, uses Headspace, which he worked with inventor Rolf Gelhar to create after he was paralysed from the shoulders down by a car accident. This virtual instrument is controlled by head movements and breaths and has now been adapted to give others a musical voice.  Meanwhile, Haile the AI musical robot, invented by the team at Georgia Institute of Technology in America, was designed to collaborate with human musicians, using powerful processers to generate and play new drum patterns. 

Visitors can also take inspiration from the unusual instruments on display—from the Pyrophone organ powered by flames to the Anarchestra satellite dish which can be played in multiple new ways to make music—to design their own with the ‘Imagine an instrument’ interactive. 

Turn It Up: The power of music reveals the extraordinary world of music research. It showcases 35 pioneering studies by scientists and artists investigating music’s effects on our minds and bodies. It has been found that music therapy can reduce agitation and the need for antipsychotic medication in up to 67% of people living with dementia¹. 

Sat in a car, visitors will find out which music boosts driving safety, or relax on a bed to be soothed by a sedating composition. By opening sports lockers, visitors will discover which surprising tracks sports stars, including Hannah Cockroft and Andy Murray, listen to before they compete. A sports science study² with triathletes, discovered that running in time to a musical beat increased endurance by almost 20%. In a supermarket aisle, find out which songs could alter the taste of food or pick up a phone to see which ‘on hold’ music keeps callers on the line longest. Visitors can also polish up dance moves as the ‘Boogie to the Beat’ digital mirror motion tracks your Twist in the name of science.  

The exhibition also shows how scientists and innovators are using music to help improve our health and wellbeing. For instance, the MediMusic app is being trialled in UK hospitals to allow medical staff to dispense music as medicine. The app uses AI to create a 20-minute playlist of tracks pre-selected for their musical qualities and calming effects. Live data from patients reveals responses and is used to improve track selection. 

There is an opportunity to experience a composition by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in partnership with children’s mental health charity Place2Be, which takes listeners on an emotional musical journey, which provides benefits to children’s emotional literacy. Jack Coulter, artist and synaesthete, who sees sound, has created a work of art for the exhibition which translates onto canvas the track ‘Cornfield Chase’, composed by Hans Zimmer for Interstellar.

The opening of this new blockbuster exhibition will be celebrated on Thursday 19 October with Music Lates. This special edition of the popular adults-only, after-hours event will feature themed talks, playful workshops and fun-packed activities exploring the universal draw of music and the science and technology behind melodies, tunes and banging beats. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy discounted entry to Turn It Up: The power of music, as well as the usual Lates highlights, including the chance to moonwalk by a Moon rock at our silent disco.

Turn It Up: The power of music was developed by the Science and Industry Museum in consultation with a Representation and Inclusion Group which included representatives from Parkinson’s UK, the National Autistic Society, Alzheimer’s UK, Henshaws, Drake Music, Brighter Sound and the National Deaf Children’s Society. 

‘Eye-opening, captivating and at times wildly uplifting, Turn It up: The power of music is a hit for the whole family.’ Manchester Wire on the exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum.

‘For those who want to check out Turn It Up: The power of music you’re certainly in for a treat.’ Manchester Evening News on the exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Contact Chloë Abley in the Press Office at chloe.abley@sciencemuseum.ac.uk or 020 7942 4818 / 07778 442038 for further information. Please find images available to download.

About the Science Museum

The Science Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, the world’s leading group of science museums that share a world-class collection providing an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Over the last century the Science Museum, the home of human ingenuity, has grown in scale and scope, inspiring visitors with exhibitions covering topics as diverse as robots, code-breaking, cosmonauts and superbugs. 2020 marked a decade of transformation for the museum with the opening of the largest medical galleries in the world—Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries and Science City 1500-1800: The Linbury Gallery—the story of how London became a hub of discovery during 1550-1800. The Science Museum was named a winner of the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year prize for 2020.www.sciencemuseum.org.uk. Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About Science Museum Lates

Bringing together a host of themed talks, workshops and activities, Science Museum Lates are free adults-only, after-hours theme nights at the museum. Science Museum Lates began in September 2008, and the museum has since hosted over 120 Lates events with themes ranging from sexuality and medicine, zombies and Frankenstein, to Zombies and AI. Find out more about past Science Museum Lates events.

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


1. Creative_Health_Inquiry_Report_2017_-_Second_Edition and Power of Music Report

2. Effects of synchronous music on treadmill running among elite triathletes