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The museum, IMAX and Pictureville are temporarily closed. Find out about our major transformation.

National Science and Media Museum reveals plans for reopening as it showcases latest designs for new permanent galleries

  • The museum is currently undergoing a once-in-a-generation transformation and will reopen in 2025 to align with the launch of Bradford’s City of Culture year.
  • Details of the National Science and Media Museum’s new permanent Sound and Vision galleries including designs, gallery themes and an artist commission for an interactive installation have been revealed.
  • The new Sound and Vision galleries will transform two floors of the museum to showcase key objects and stories from the museum’s world-class collections. 

The National Science and Media Museum has announced that it anticipates a 2025 reopening, aligning with the Bradford district’s UK City of Culture celebrations. The museum temporarily closed in June last year to undergo a once-in-a-generation transformation with huge changes through a £6 million capital project called ‘Sound and Vision’, including two new permanent galleries, a new passenger lift and improvements to the main entrance, thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The museum had initially been set to reopen this summer, however due to unforeseen delays to the excavation of an additional passenger lift shaft, it is now anticipated that the museum will open in two phases, with the building welcoming visitors at the start of the Bradford district’s City of Culture year, and the new Sound and Vision galleries launching later in 2025.

Commenting on the plans, Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Science and Media Museum said:

“Our new Sound and Vision galleries will completely transform the museum’s visitor offer by showcasing our incredible collections and ensuring visitors can find stories that resonate with them.
 
“Having an additional passenger lift is a crucial part of our transformation that will enable us to welcome many more visitors in 2025 and beyond. Despite extensive survey work before the excavation commenced, our contractors encountered an unexpected make-up of ground at the base of the lift, which took much longer to excavate than anticipated. Whilst the impact of this delay in the short term is frustrating, our Sound and Vision project will future proof the museum for decades to come.

“Our new gallery designs reveal how the spaces will be dynamic, interactive and inspiring, underlining how all areas of our collection from photography to videogaming are embedded in every aspect of our lives. Visitors will be able to see the first ever photographic image; have a go at being a sound engineer; step inside the studio of a local radio station and enter a live art installation. We’ve also worked closely with local communities to ensure we’re telling stories that are relevant to Bradford, showcasing the creativity and diversity of our home city. We look forward to welcoming visitors back into the museum and into our new Sound and Vision galleries in 2025.”

During this extended temporary closure, the museum will continue to engage with audiences through a vibrant off-site offer. Since June, the museum’s Learning team have been bringing their ‘Visiting You’ programme of educational workshops and activities to local schools and community venues, reaching out to more than 6,000 school children to date. The team has also developed an exciting school holiday offer in partnership with venues across the Bradford district.

Elsewhere, while Pictureville Cinema remains temporarily closed until this summer, the museum continues to host a series of cult and classic film screenings as part of its busy Pictureville Presents off-site offer at Bradford Alhambra Studios. With more details about the upcoming cinema programme to be announced soon.

As well as announcing the updated reopening plans, the museum has revealed a tantilising glimpse of the latest designs for its new permanent Sound and Vision galleries, including details of gallery themes and stories, along with an artist commission for an interactive installation. Thanks to £3.4m support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, made possible by National Lottery players, the new galleries will completely transform two floors of the museum, reimagining the display and interpretation of its world-class collections of photography, film, television, animation, video games and sound technologies.

Designed by gallery architects, AOC (Agents of Change), the new galleries will showcase the museum’s core collections through the four key themes of Innovation, Identities, Storytelling and Everywhere, to lead visitors on a journey through the explosion of sound and image technologies, and the impact on our lives. The latest design renders illustrate some of these themes and the key moments and stories that visitors will be able to explore throughout the galleries.

In the section on Identities, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in an interactive space with ‘sound showers’, a mixing desk and dance floor to evoke the shared experience and thrill of live performances and gigs. A key moment in Storytelling will take visitors through the long history of creating animation from flipbooks and stop motion to digital illustrations through the stories of beloved fictional characters such as the March Hare from Alice in Wonderland. Local radio station, Bradford Community Broadcasting (BCB) will also feature in the new galleries in Everywhere, where an interactive studio space will tell the story of how sound and image technologies have enabled local community representation in broadcasting and give visitors the chance to be a radio DJ.

In a newly reconfigured part of the galleries which has opened up a double height space, artist Nayan Kulkarni has been commissioned to create an interactive installation called ‘Circus.’ Visitors will be invited to enter a room that comes to life using a captured live feed of themselves, like a chamber of mirrors, encouraging visitors to engage with broadcast technologies and see how image manipulation has changed over time.  

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“It is incredibly exciting to see the designs of the new gallery spaces as part of the Sound and Vision project, which we’re thrilled to be supporting thanks to National Lottery players. The transformation of the National Science and Media Museum will ensure this national and local treasure is a star attraction for City of Culture 2025,  and it will also have a lasting and meaningful future with local people and visitors enjoying it for generations to come. Improving access to the museum is an important element of the project, so although there is a short delay, this work will enable more people to experience the wonders of science and media.”

A vibrant activity plan sits alongside the development of the new galleries, supporting greater access, representation and volunteering opportunities, focused on enabling more people to engage with the museum. Throughout the project, the museum has engaged and consulted with community leaders, access and equality groups, young people and schools including SHINE West Bowling, Morley Street Resource Centre, and Bradford Deaf Centre, among many others. Volunteers have played an integral role in the project's development, with over 100 volunteers contributing over 1600 hours of time to consultations and engagement activities. Volunteering opportunities will continue throughout the project's delivery, with participants expected to contribute an additional 400 hours to further activities.

The museum’s Youth Forum, a group of young people from across Bradford district, is helping to inform and shape the project and the future of the museum. Youth Forum members have already been consulted on gallery designs, objects, stories, art commission and potential names for the galleries. The group participated in a collaborative workshop with award-winning photographer, Carolyn Mendelsohn, where they looked at aspects of identity and photography as part of the gallery’s Identities theme, exploring how we perceive ourselves and others, and the history of selfies and amateur photography.

The Sound and Vision Project is a £6m capital investment, and in addition to funding received from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project also has support from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2022–24, Bradford Council and the Science Museum Group, which the National Science and Media Museum is a part of.

Find more information about the museum’s new Sound and Vision galleries here.

Read the latest FAQs regarding the National Science and Media Museum’s temporary closure here.

Notes to editors

For more information, images, or interviews, please contact Brittany Noppe, Senior Press Officer, Brittany.noppe@scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk / 01274 203356

A media pack of the gallery designs is available to download.

The Sound and Vision Project is generously supported by National Lottery Players, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (Associate Funder), DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund (Associate Funder), Sovereign Health Care (Supported By), Spectacle Makers Charity (Supported By).

About the National Science and Media Museum

The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, opened in 1983, and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. It draws on more than three million objects from its national collection to explore the science and culture of image and sound technologies, and their impact on our lives.    
  
The museum creates special exhibitions, interactive galleries and activities for families and adults, and is home to Pictureville, Yorkshire’s biggest independent cinema with three screens including Europe’s first IMAX and the only public Cinerama venue in the world.   

Please note, the museum is now temporarily closed to the public in early 2025 to undergo a ‘once-in-a-generation’ transformation. Pictureville Cinema and Bar is currently temporarily closed as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of staff and visitors, following a survey into the presence of Reinforced Aerated Autoclave Concrete (RAAC) in the building. For more information and updates on re-opening, please visit our website.

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s vision is for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future as set out in our strategic plan, Heritage 2033.

Over the next ten years, we aim to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players to bring about benefits for people, places and the natural environment.  

We help protect, transform and share the things from the past that people care about, from popular museums and historic places, our natural environment and fragile species, to the languages and cultural traditions that celebrate who we are. 
We are passionate about heritage and committed to driving innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference to people’s lives today, while leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.  

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

About Nayan Kulkarni

Nayan Kulkarni explores the production of place and atmosphere through light, video, and sound installations. His projects are born from his responses to specific sites and localities, involving extensive engagement with their landscapes and histories. His research is diverse, encompassing historical archival materials, appropriated film fragments, and collaborative projects that examine colonial architectures and landscapes.

His artworks encompass multimedia installations that can fill entire buildings or cover architectural structures, as well as more intimate pieces that capture fragments of reflected domestic light or short compositions for solo piano. Some of his recent major projects include 'Drawing for Sir John' (Sir John Soane's Museum, 2023), 'Room for a Picnoleptic' (Somerset House, 2020), 'Pilgrim' (Selby Abbey, 2019, funded by ACE), and 'Blade' (Hull UK City of Culture 2017). He is working on 'A Room That Sings’, a permanent architectural sound installation for Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire that is due to open to the public in spring 2024.

Nayan Kulkarni was trained at Birmingham and the Slade Schools of Art and completed a PhD at the Royal College of Art in 2020. His critical writing has been published internationally, including 'Emerging Identities in the Futures of Place' (Springer Series, 2020) and 'Walking Cities: London' (Routledge, 2020). His professional awards include the ACTA Eastern Eye Award for Arts in 2017 and a Civic Award for 'Blade' from the Chester Civic Society. He also received an AHRC Award for 'Hryre,' while 'Mirrie Dancers' was honoured with a Scottish Arts Council Inspire Award and an Esmée Fairbairn Project Award.

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Thanks to National Lottery players

Associate Funders

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund