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WonderLab Museum

WonderLab Museum


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WonderLab is an innovative science and technology museum situated on the courthouse square, in downtown Bloomington, Indiana.Opened to the public in 1998, the museum, through its hands-on exhibits and programs, aims to educate people of all ages - especially children - in an attempt to inculcate in them basic scientific principles and to foster an attitude for continuous learning.WonderLab features more than 25 permanent and changing hands-on exhibits in science, health, and technology as well as make-and-take activities that vary every week.Exhibits and experiments – which the visitors can test themselves – are scheduled in various thematic sections that are designed in line with Indiana academic standards. A selection of interactive science demonstrations, on a particular science topic, is part of the daily schedule.The landscaped Wondergarden, by the side of the museum building, is an ideal place to rest and relax, and is a respite from the downtown bustle. Its amphitheater hosts interesting outdoor science programs.The museum’s Resource Room is home to numerous magazines and science activity books. The museum gift store has high-quality science toys, puzzles, games, activity kits, and logo items.WonderLab is located near the Indiana University and Convention Center.


WonderLab Museum - History

We bought a year’s membership to the Wonderlab at London’s Science Museum which means we have been a few times so I thought I should write something about the experience. (Just to clarify this is not an ad I purchased our tickets).

I need to start by saying the Science Museum has never been a favourite with my daughter, she finds the downstairs section very overwhelming so we have tried to do it in small visits. But after we the success of our outing to the Science Centre in Winchester I decided to buy tickets for the wonderlab and just hope for the best. Straight up the first two visits were stressful for her. The Wonderlab is busy – lots of school groups and it is a sensory overload for kids who may be sensory avoiders.

If you think of this from a sensory persons point of view – there is a LOT of visual stimulation, and the noise is constant – noise of the experiments, bangs from some experiments, the constant hum and bustle of kids – it is noisy and there is also a big tactile element – it is very hands-on so they kids are always touching stuff and when it gets busy there are lots of kids pushing past, sitting or standing way to close. So from a sensory side there is just a LOT going on.

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So we needed to find quieter times and these tended to be weekdays after lunch time, really the later the better (when the school groups have left). I also found quieter areas within the wonderlab itself – there is a shape building area using polydron framework shapes (which was really amazing) near the toilets and some benches near the chemistry bar.

After a few visist my daughter started to enjoy the experience more and for her the biggest winner has to be their chemistry bar. We have been a few times and have had different explainers do the presentations so they are never exactly the same. For us the chemistry bar is even better when you go later in the afternoon. Yesterday we went to a session where there were only 3 kids (2 of which were mine) and the explainer really involved the kids and ended up going on for longer because the kids were so interested.

She also really likes the Explainers (the staff), who walk around. I have always found them brilliant with the kids, ready to help but at the same time they don’t feed the kids the answers they get the kids to work out solutions. And when it gets even quieter in the afternoon they tend to get even more chatter which just means the kids get to ask more and more questions.

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I think the Wonderlab at the Science Museum is well worth the cost of the tickets. But if you do have sensory kids I highly recommend trying to time your visit for quieter periods because it is a sensory overloading experience for the kids (also if you do have sensory kids I have found the more we visited the more mine tended to relax as they knew what to expect which meant thay actually end up learning more).


Elementary art and design: the Wonderlab opens at London’s Science Museum

Dedicated to children and learning, the Science Museum&rsquos new Wonderlab space launches this week. Three slides provide exhaustive fun for children while demonstrating the science behind friction. Photography: Plastiques Photography. Courtesy of Science Museum

A new gallery at London&rsquos Science Museum, designed by Muf Architecture/Art, combines science with craft, design and art. Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery has been designed for school groups, yet bespoke details, contemporary art and comfortable seating make the experience adult-friendly too.

A contemporary reinvention of the Children&rsquos Gallery which opened in 1931, the gallery was a part of the museum designated for children to play, experiment and learn in. The architects worked with the existing structure on the third floor. &lsquoWe cut away the walls to make this long view, so it&rsquos a bit like being in a city, you can always see another street to go down,&rsquo says Liza Fior, partner at Muf architecture/art, who was hyper-aware of how each individual would use the space.

Divided into seven scientific zones, there are over 50 different exhibits uniquely designed by a whole range of collaborators for children to explore. &lsquoThere&rsquos always somewhere for people to gather around. There&rsquos never a sense of a queue, even if there is the maximum of 500 people in here,&rsquo she continues.

A sense of history and narrative has been embedded through the choice of materials. &lsquoThere&rsquos a tendency [in] modern school design [to] all white, clean and colourful,&rsquo says Fior, who wanted to bring dreaming and curiosity back into education architecture. Deep red quilted undercroft is paired with brass in the theatre, while in the more industrial gallery, air con vents are painted sparkly white and crystals are set into smooth wooden benches.

The team at Muf selected the craftspeople and artists to work with, so while there is a plethora of materials and styles, a sense of cohesion is maintained. A light installation by Front picks out the 500 stars closest to the earth while ex-Droog designer Arnout Visser&rsquos glass creations decorate the Chemistry Bar, an exhibit where live experiments can be ordered.

&lsquoIt&rsquos a learning space, so we wanted every exhibit to perform&rsquo, said Toby Parkin, Wonderlab&rsquos curator, who wanted to recreate the excitement that was ignited by the Great Exhibition of 1851. The attention to detail makes the gallery an incredible place to be for an adult as well. &lsquoIt&rsquos all here for adults,&rsquo says Parkin, &lsquoWe wanted to add these beautiful pieces in so adults felt comfortable in the space as well.&rsquo

A series of still life photographs by artist Siobhan Liddell are exhibited above a seating area where building blocks are arranged into puzzles, their colours chosen by Liddell to create a continuous aesthetic journey. &lsquoWhere do architecture and design stop and start?&rsquo questions Fior. &lsquoEverytime you sit down you feel like somebody&rsquos been thinking of you, whether it&rsquos a rail that you touch or finding a crystal in a seat. It&rsquos an incredibly luxurious place to be.&rsquo

The 120-seat theatre is built within a larger room that welcomes children before they enter the Wonderlab. Acoustics were important for Liza Fior, co-founder at Muf Architecture/Art, who wanted to create a sense of calm in this space to build anticipation

A rotating solar system, which can be ridden by visitors, is a central focus of the Wonderlab

The gallery&rsquos texts have been designed by graphic designers Objectif and illustrator Andrew Rae, who worked with different materials to reflect each scientific zone

Arnout Visser, a former designer at Droog, worked with Czech makers to create oversized glass pieces for the Chemistry Bar, where children can order up some slime or liquid nitrogen

A little window gives children a peek into the gallery before they go in, heightening their sense of excitement


Wonderlab Live

Inspired by our ever-popular Wonderlab gallery, Wonderlab Live will reveal the beauty of the science behind household objects that shape our everyday lives.

This unmissable experience will ignite your curiosity, fuel your imagination and inspire you to see the world around you in new and exciting ways. Enjoy live demonstrations—at a safe distance!—and step into another world of wonder.

Exhibitions and events

Kodak Gallery

Take a journey through the history of photography. Step into a 19th century portrait studio, see hundreds of incredible objects from our collection, and watch the world’s first moving colour film.

Life Online

How did our lives change when the internet was born? Find out in the world’s first gallery dedicated to the social, technological and cultural impact of the web. Follow the history of the internet.

Wonderlab

Think like a scientist in Wonderlab, our newest and most interactive gallery exploring light and sound through mind-bending exhibits and spectacular live shows. Touch, try and photograph your.

BFI Mediatheque

Grab a booth in the BFI Mediatheque and discover the best, rarest and most extraordinary films and TV programmes from the BFI National Archive. Simply log on at a viewing station and choose from over.

Animation Gallery

Love Wallace and Gromit? Remember Morph? Discover original models and artwork from over 100 animations. See science in action as still images come to life! Explore the history of animation and.


Never wear shades for a 3D film: My return to the Science Museum

I was sat in the Sciene Museum’s IMAX cinema. The screening of Antarctica 3D wasn’t going quite as I expected.

After a long absence, it was great to return to the Science Museum.

The quality of the film was a bit poor for a 3D screening, not to mention a little on the dark, underexposed side. I then looked down to my lap and saw the 3D glasses I’d been handed on the way in. If they were in my lap, then what was on my face?

I’d made a very silly mistake. It was a sunny day when I visited the Science Museum, my first visit to Central London in 14 months. I’d been wearing sunglasses and I’d foolishly pull them over my eyes instead of the 3D glasses!

Once I’d rectified my mistake and put the 3D glasses on, wow, it was amazing. Antarctica 3D is a documentary made by BBC Earth and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. I was instantly greeted by the most amazing rainbow-patterned fish that was right in front of me.

Antarctica 3D from BBC Earth is on a tthe museum’s IMAX cinema and it’s narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

As time went on, underwater spiders the size of dinner plates, multi-coloured starfish, seals and more graced the screen, enhanced by Benedict Cumberbatch’s narration. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been entirely sold on the idea of 3D films, but the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema has just been refurbished. Whatever work was done during the refurbishment (which, of course, has only just been revealed to the world), the result is a superb cinematic experience.

Back in London

The IMAX experience was actually the final thing I did on my visit to the Science Museum. In true dad style, I had to dash off just before the end of the screening to so I could get back for the school run.

Nonetheless, this was a great away to return to Central London. Most school holidays I’d bring the children into the city to visit the museums. Courtesy of Aunty Covid, I don’t think we’ve visited the Science Museum or its neighbours, the V&A and Natural History Museums since summer 2019.

One thing visitors need to be aware of is that you need to book a free museum pass to gain entry to the Science Museum. This has to be done in advance on the the Science Museum’s website.

A large mirror in the Science Museum’s Wonderlab provided the perfect opportunity to take this selfie!

Visitors should also be aware the subway from South Kensington Underground Station to Exhibition Row (where the museums are) is shut. I assume this is a COVID thing as it can be difficult to socially distance in that tunnel. On arrival at South Kensington, simply follow the signs directing you above ground and rest assured, it is a very short walk.

With it being ticketed entry, the signature queues outside the museum were a lot shorter on the day I visited. I took a quick look around the classic displays, including the steam-powered 1903 Mill Engine inside the entrance which was powered up and working. This was a very pleasant surprise as I’ve visited many a time before but this was the first time this gigantic engine was powered up and running.

I also spent quite a bit of time in the Medical Gallery and could not resist paying a visit to the Winton Mathematics Gallery (following my recent sitting of GCSE maths as an adult !). While there I came face to face with an old Commodore computer that bought back memories of the kind of machine we had at school.

The Wonderlab

I was also very lucky to be given access to The Wonderlab. This is a part of the Science Museum that you have to pay to visit, either a day ticket or annual membership. We have previously had annual a membership of The Wonderlab as it’s a quieter part of the museum and it gives youngsters a greater opportunity to get involved with various displays. The demonstrations in the Showspace lecture theatre are also superb.

It was great to be back in the Wonderlab and to see the mist displays, the air cannon, frozen water experiments and so on. There were plenty of lectures planned for the Showcase as well, although I was unable to stay for any of them.

Just be advised that some displays which could involve getting into close proximity with other people, such as the infinity boxes, are closed until further notice. I think you can figure out why!

Covid restrictions

As you can imagine, the Science Museum is taking precautions because of COVID. In addition to tickets having to be booked in advance, face coverings must be worn while inside. There are one-way systems in place and hand sanitiser stations are all over the place. Space is also being left between seats in the IMAX cinema.

Seating in the IMAX cinema is clearly marked so you know where you can and cannot sit.

Final thoughts

It’s quite understandable some people are still feeling nervous about visiting big attractions. Having felt slightly overwhelmed at returning to an urban environment for my first COVID vaccination shot, I was keen to make this trip. I thought it would be good for easing me back into the world after spending the past year and a bit hardly leaving the four-square miles around where I live.

The day I visited was, I believe, the first day the Science Museum had been opened up to anyone so it was possibly a little quieter than it will be in the weeks to come. I can only tell you that on the day I went, visitor numbers were well under control and I did not feel uncomfortable at all. It was very easy to socially distance. If anything, the surrounding cafes and restaurants seemed more crowded than the Science Museum!

The IMAX experience was great and it was good to see the Wonderlab up and running again. If you are looking for something to do over the half-term, you could consider the Science Museum. Whatever you do, however, please be sensible and follow all the latest COVID guidance. To find out more and to book tickets, go online to the Science Museum’s website.


The Chemistry Tour

Make your way to Level 1 where you will find Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries. Here, you will find Louis Pasteur’s compound microscope.

Compound monocular microscope. Image Credit: Science Museum Group Collection

Chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, used microscopes like this during his experiments on spontaneous generation – the theory that living creatures could arise from nonliving matter and that such processes were commonplace and regular.

By 1864, Pasteur disproved this theory by experimenting with fermentation. He placed yeast water in a swan-necked flask that only allowed air to enter. The water remained clear. Only when the flask was open to dust and micro-organisms did fermentation occur.

Stop 2: Crystal model of magnesium ammonium phosphate

Also found in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries is this crystal model of magnesium ammonium phosphate (Mg NH4 PO4 6H2O).

Crystal model of magnesium ammonium phosphate (Mg NH4 PO4 6H2O). Image credit: Science Museum Group Collection

This model is from a collection relating to the X-ray crystallography research associated with Dame Kathleen Lonsdale’s work in investigating the cause of kidney stones.

Stop 2: Density map of a myoglobin molecule

Make you way up to Level 2 and enter the Mathematics: The Winton Gallery. Here, you’ll find the electron density map of a myoglobin molecule.

Perspex electron density map of a myoglobin molecule c. 1957. Image credit: Science Museum Group Collection

Myoglobin (symbol Mb or MB) is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in muscle tissue of vertebrates (animals with a spinal cord) in general and in almost all mammals. It was the first protein to have its three-dimensional structure revealed by X-ray crystallography.

Stop 3: Dorothy Hodgkin’s model showing the structure of insulin

Using Lift D, head back down to Level 0. Once you are out of the lift, turn right and enter Making the Modern World.

Model, one of two, made by Dorothy M. Crowfoot Hodgkin c.1967, to show the structure of 2 zinc pig insulin crystals at a resolution of 2.8A. Photographed as on display in gallery. Grey background.

In this gallery, you will find British chemist and crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkin’s model showing the structure of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to break down sugars in the body.

In 1935, Dorothy M Crowfoot Hodgkin published the first X-ray photograph of insulin. However, Hodgkin and her team were unable to determine the 3-D structure of insulin until 1969, when this model was made. The larger metal balls in the model represent zinc, which was introduced chemically into the protein to decode the rest.

Stop 4: Oscillation-rotation x-ray diffraction camera

While you’re in Making the Modern World, look out for the Oscillation-rotation x-ray diffraction camera used by physicist Professor John Desmond Bernal.

Oscillation-rotation x-ray diffraction camera. Image credit: Science Museum Group Collection

Bernal used this X-ray diffraction camera at the Royal Institution in London.

When X-rays are passed through crystals they scatter to create a pattern that can be used to determine the structures of molecules.

Known today as X-ray crystallography, it was a crucial technique used to understand the structure of penicillin, DNA and insulin. Bernal was also interested in the social function of science and wrote widely on the history of science.

Stop 5: Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery

Science Museum Explainer at the Chemistry Bar in Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery. Image credit: Science Museum Group.

And last, but certainly not least, it’s time to get hands-on with chemistry.

Make sure to visit the Chemistry Bar in Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery on Level 3, where our team of fabulous science Explainers will conduct live science demos.

Our fully interactive Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery has over 50 hands-on exhibits and will inspire you to see the world around you in new and exciting ways.

Where to eat:

On Level 0 you will find the Energy Cafe if you fancy treating yourself to lunch, or with one of our homemade cakes and an award-winning coffee.

The Science Museum is open Wednesday–Sunday, 10.00–18.00 (last entry 17.15), and during school holidays we are open seven days a week. Head to our website to pre-book your free tickets.

Want more? Delve into our online stories of how experimentation and innovation in chemistry affects the world around us.

Science Museum

Science Museum has written 117 posts

This blog will take you behind the scenes at the Science Museum, exploring the incredible objects in our collection, upcoming exhibitions and the scientific achievements making headlines today.


5. It’s super convenient

One of the best things about The Wonderlab is that you can stay there for as long as you like - once you’re in, you’re in! Plus, it’s super convenient because after you’ve worn out all 5 floors of the Science Museum, you can just head on over to The Wonderlab (providing you’ve pre-booked your tickets on Kidadl) where there’s endless hours of fun to be had!

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WonderLab Museum Opens New Exhibit

WonderLab Science Museum workers are getting ready to open a new exhibit this weekend. It will be a place for fun and learning through science for children.

After years of planning and construction, Bloomington’s WonderLab Science Museum is opening their doors to the Science Sprouts Place. The new exhibit is for infants and toddlers.

Project Director Karen Jepson Innes says that the secret science behind the exhibit helps young children with language development and social cognition.

“They’re really active learners, and there’s so much cognitive development that’s happening in that first year of life so we really wanted to celebrate that and showcase how important it is,” she says.

With the help of sponsors, the museum was able to integrate vital science and learning into fun.

The museum collaborated with early childhood professionals and faculty from the Indiana University Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to inspire curiosity and creativity in infants and toddlers.

Early Childhood Specialist Robin Frisch says exposing children to this kind of environment as soon as possible is essential for brain development.

“We truly believe that young children are born as young scientists," she says. "Children learn about their world through their senses, through their movements, and that’s all about science."


How the Pandemic Has Highlighted a Crisis in Contemporary Museums

What does the word “museum” make you think of? For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind may be an art museum, perhaps an encyclopedic museum, a massive institution like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art or the British Museum or the Louvre, or maybe the American Museum of Natural History or the museums that make up the Smithsonian. But museums come in a kaleidoscope of sizes and subject matters.

Whatever their type, all have been affected deeply — like the rest of us — by COVID-19 and this year’s economic lockdown. To get an idea of how this worked on a local level, in addition to my own research, I spoke with staff members of three very different area museums here in south-central Indiana: the Eskenazi Museum of Art (one of the museums at Indiana University Bloomington) WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology, a science museum in Bloomington geared especially toward children (and the rare museum in Bloomington that is not part of the university) and the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum in Columbus.

One thing that these museums share, not surprisingly, is a sense of uncertainty. The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum had originally planned a “soft” reopening on July 9 (admitting the public only on Thursdays through Saturdays) but changed this to August 1, only on Saturdays, and for more limited hours. (The museum has since delayed its opening even further, as the state of Indiana has extended its reopening process.) WonderLab has a provisional reopening plan for early August, but it is not yet publicly announced, and is subject to change. (Aleisha Kropf, their marketing and communications director, told me that it is “quite possible” that the opening would be delayed.) For the Eskenazi Museum, lockdown came just months into reopening after a three-year closure for renovation. Museums are playing reopenings, and everything else, by ear.

Each of the museums I spoke to is funded differently, and the lockdown has affected the funding of each museum in very different ways. About half of WonderLab’s funding comes from donations, the other half from “earned revenue.” Some of their biggest revenue generators, such as summer camp, have had to be canceled. Neither the Eskenazi nor Atterbury-Bakalar charges for admission. Base funding for the Eskenazi is provided by Indiana University, and during the lockdown the university has cut that funding by 5%. Atterbury-Bakalar is funded mainly by a stipend from the Columbus Municipal Airport Board of Aviation.

Not surprisingly, employees at WonderLab have been most deeply affected by the pandemic, with part-time staff laid off and permanent staff having hours reduced however, the museum has received a series of grants and loans, including a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan (in the range of $150k-$350k) which has covered staff salaries and allowed all full-time staff to return to normal hours. The Eskenazi Museum has not had to lay off or furlough any employees. Atterbury-Bakalar is staffed entirely by volunteers — since they are mostly retired, they are particularly cautious about returning to the museum.

Both WonderLab and the Eskenazi have been driven by the lockdown to focus more on virtual aspects of their museums. WonderLab has seen a very positive response to their virtual programs, including attention from out-of-state residents. The Eskenazi’s focus on virtual aspects includes not only programs but its online collections. Both museums are considering the role of technology in their long-term plans, and how virtual offerings might become more significant after the pandemic.

More broadly, all of the museums emphasized the need for change moving forward. “Our executive director asked if anyone could think of a single thing that hasn’t been rethought or redone to cope with COVID,” WonderLab’s Kropf told me. “Someone suggested that the doors were the same. But no, they are not. It made us all laugh. The way we do every single thing on every level has changed. Even the way we open the doors.”

What does the future hold for museums more generally? The hanging question over what public life will look like in the near future can only exacerbate the discouraging trends that have been in place for some time.

Let’s consider art museums: Over 50 years ago, Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbel demonstrated how European art museums exist at a remove from the daily lives of most people, that the “love of art” is tied closely to the upper class. In the decades since, we’ve seen attendance rise with the emergence of blockbuster exhibitions — and then fall again to pre-blockbuster levels after the economic downturn of 2007–08. Even with improved numbers over the past few years, in 2017 only 23.7% of American adults reported visiting an art museum or gallery in the previous year. Art museums continue to lie outside of most people’s experience. Surveys consistently show that museum attendance is as highly correlated with both education and income as it was in the 1960s. Relatively few people can afford to go to museums, or at least large museums in major cities. And, not surprisingly, art museums do not seem to be relevant to the lives of a majority of people.

How much does this matter to museums? With admissions making up a small percentage of museum revenue, and government funding decreasing, many museums have increasingly relied on philanthropy. When the Met established a mandatory admission fee for out-of-state visitors in 2018, the statements of the president and CEO reflected that relative importance: Visitors were unfairly criticized for not paying their way while wealthy donors were praised as “our generous contributors.” We might ask whether most of the public needs museums. We might also ask, with museum attendance making such a small part of revenue: Do they need us?

In reality, museums merely reflect the massive inequalities in society at large. After the pandemic, museums may represent an even greater concentration of wealth in fewer hands. The American Alliance of Museums has repeatedly warned that roughly a third of museums may never reopen. Almost half of those that will reopen expect to do so with reduced staff. A study of the arts and culture sector of New York City suggests that the revenue of smaller institutions has been disproportionately affected by the lockdown. Inequality is also reflected in the handling of loans for museums and other institutions. Although PPP loans were designed for small businesses, many larger organizations also received them via loopholes. Watchdog groups are also concerned about the lack of oversight for these loans, with questions about how many institutions are receiving loans but not retaining jobs as they should. Regardless, as we’ve seen from headlines, many museums have already had to lay off workers. And, since the PPP loans were meant to cover just two months of payroll, museums are resuming layoffs since the loans expired. Workers, especially vulnerable ones working only part-time, may bear the brunt of the crisis.

At the same time, the lockdown has inspired some curators and museums to show the possibilities of what museums can do after the pandemic. Dan Hicks, Curator of Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, started the hashtag #MuseumsUnlocked on Twitter, which for 100 days invited anyone to share images of objects in museum collections and monuments around the world, organized around a different theme each day. The project was collaborative, with the participation of official museum accounts, museum staff, and the general public. The use of virtual spaces and cooperative spirit in this and other projects are highly promising. Hicks and a handful of other museum curators and directors have publicly embraced the potential for museums to address their racist pasts, repatriate artifacts, and work more closely with their communities after COVID-19. This is all for the good. But can these recommendations be implemented in the current crisis? The pandemic has also seen many museums make formulaic statements in favor of Black Lives Matter or “systemic change,” but with no real plan to follow through on such statements. And with rising inequality, the public may have even less of a say about museums’ activities and missions than before.

Ultimately, what these trends show is that, if we want museums to reflect our values more, we may need to remake not only them but our society as a whole. What are our priorities and how do we want to fund them? Do we need to rethink our idea of a museum as well? “Museum” does not have to mean an art museum, or a major institution with blockbuster exhibitions. Of course, a large variety of museums of different types and sizes already exists. Perhaps we do not need to recreate museums as much as broaden our existing conceptions of them. It’s helpful to compare museums with public libraries: Libraries are spaces set up for use, not just passive watching they lend items out to users, and provide basic services (computers, internet, printing, workshops on various topics) that communities need — all for free. The future may be in smaller museums, not just more responsive to communities but more driven by them. As the museum staff I spoke with suggested, the crisis may be an opportunity after all.


The Sun : Living with our star

We also visited the latest exhibition at the museum – The Sun: Living with our Star which tells the story of Earth’s closest star, the Sun.

As we walked through the yellow sun archway we entered a world of how the Sun is so important to us on Earth – it brings us light, heat and the seasons.

This was a totally different experience to Wonderlab but it offered more opportunities for the kids (and us adults) to have fun through hands-on interactive experiences to watching a short film showcasing stunning imagery of the sun through multiple light filters.

What was great for families was that the exhibition uses plenty of bite sized facts of how we have interacted with the sun throughout history. It was really interesting to see how historic objects were used, how the sun is used for healing and to the future with a focus on solar energy and nuclear fusion.

We even came across a beach area where we sat on deckchairs and listened to beach sounds through coconut speakers.

For the instagrammers out there don’t miss the yellow ‘sun beam’ which dissects the galleries, it was so much fun.

After a busy morning we stopped for lunch at the really brightly coloured sun exhibition café on Level 2 which had some really cool seating. Better still their sun and space themed cakes were delicious.

But this is just a small part of this amazing museum. Over its five floors you can experience everything from seeing the actual Apollo space capsule or flying an aeroplane to immersing yourself watching one of the films at the giant IMAX theatre. There are over 15,000 exhibits in total in this amazing though-provoking museum.

You could easily spend 2 days here and still not see everything.

Tip – Use the map which is available from the ticket desk at the entrance. The Science Museum is huge, and with different floors and exhibitions it’s easy to lose your way.

The energy hall is located in the central atrium of the ground floor and features a huge red mill engine and we learnt about the story of the power of steam.

The historic full-sized engines on display were spectacular including those by James Watt the famous Scottish engineer.

However Holly was eager to get to one of her favourite subjects ‘Space’ and the Exploring Space exhibition.

Having recently watched the First Man movie I found the space exhibition fascinating.

My husband and Holly are the real space buffs and could have spent hours here, with giant space rockets suspended above your heads, actual moon rock to a full sized replica of Eagle – the lander that took astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon.

Exploring Space was fascinating – the only museum that could rival this in the country would be the National Space Centre in Leicester.

Next up at the Making the Modern World gallery next door displayed 250 years of science and technology and some of our most iconic items that have shaped our society.

Walking through this section we came across everything from planes, cars and trains to the capsule from the Apollo 10 mission. This circled the moon in 1969 before the Apollo 11 mission which the First Man movie is based upon.

There was so much to see and do here and like the rest of the museum it was hard to know where to look – it is that good.

We finished our visit at the tomorrow’s world section, and although Holly wanted to check out the IMAX theatre time was against us as we had a train to catch.

There is so much to discover at the Science Museum and we merely scratched the surface of what is on offer here, which makes a return visit a certainty during our next visit to London.

We left via the main museum shop which is packed full of cool science museum toys which provided perfect inspiration for the girls’ Christmas lists.

Entry to the Science Museum is free, but charges apply for Wonderlab (from £10 for adults and £8 for children for a day pass), and the Sun: Living with our Star exhibition (from £15 adults – children under 16 are free)

For the latest opening hours and to book tickets visit https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

The closest Tube station is South Kensington (Circle, District and Piccadilly lines) but we found High Street Kensington to be closer as you do not need to walk through the pedestrian tunnel – plus you will get to see the fabulous architecture of The Natural History Museum and its amazing seasonal ice rink.


Watch the video: Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery an introduction for schools. #STEM (May 2022).