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New gallery, name and spacecraft all set to land at revamped museum

A state-of-the-art £1.8m interactive gallery, a new name, and the arrival of astronaut Tim Peake’s spacecraft are among a series of major launches at the National Media Museum this year.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Naz Shah and Philip Davies with Soyuz TMA-19M
The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft with museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch and Bradford MPs Naz Shah and Philip Davies

The museum, set to become the National Science and Media Museum to reflect its focus on the science behind the magic of photography, film and television, unveils its new gallery Wonderlab with an opening family weekend on the 25–26 March 2017.

Featuring UK-firsts and breath-taking live shows, Wonderlab explores the science of light, sound and images through state-of-the-art exhibits—including some that can’t be seen permanently anywhere else in the world. Visitors will be able to see their body split from their head as they walk, hear their voice echo through a 15m-long tube, experience an anti-gravity mirror and a musical laser tunnel, as well as watch one of the world’s first 3D-printed zoetrope installations.

The Bradford-based museum has also confirmed it will host the world-famous Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that carried Major Tim Peake to the International Space Station (ISS) and back to earth. Visitors will be able to see the space-faring vessel this September when it travels outside London for the first time since it was acquired by the Science Museum Group in 2016.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Museum Director, said: 

“These announcements are not only incredibly exciting, but a significant statement of intent—that we are aiming to be one of the leading museums in the UK and worldwide. The museum has a bright future and we are confident people are going to be wowed by Wonderlab and the state-of-the-art exhibits within, along with many other events we have planned like the arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft. 

“We want to draw in new visitors, encourage existing ones to come more often and open a whole new chapter for the museum. Our collections across the technology and culture of photography, film and TV are unrivalled, and Wonderlab explores the science behind what makes these things magical in a very hands-on way.”

Wonderlab visitors will get to try more than 20 mind-blowing permanent exhibits including:

  • The UK’s first permanent ‘Time Twister’ screen, which separates head from body
  • A waterfall that visitors can manipulate to make water appear to hover in mid-air
  • The world’s first permanent 3D-printed zoetrope, by Japanese artist Akinori Goto
  • A 6ft sphere with spectacular animations of the sun and earth
  • Self-portrait photos timed to the exact moment a water drop splashes
  • A musical laser tunnel designed by Bradford-based artists Steve Manthorp and Shanaz Gulzar

Ms Quinton-Tulloch added: 

“Changing our name to the National Science and Media Museum makes it clear what people can expect when they visit us and the plans we’re revealing fulfil that promise. It is the start of our long-term strategy to look at our core subjects differently and inspire the filmmakers, photographers, scientists and engineers of the future. Ultimately, our aim is to take our place among the top international museums and build on our status as a key part of British, Yorkshire and Bradford tourism.

“The arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft is a huge coup for us—the first time it can be seen in the UK outside of London. It was at the centre of one of the biggest broadcast events of 2016 and will be yet another reason for people to visit the museum when it goes on display later in the year.”

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said:

“Yorkshire has an amazing selection of national museums and we are delighted to see this one launching a cutting edge new gallery giving visitors yet another reason to choose Yorkshire. Wonderlab has the potential to blow minds of all ages and with the arrival of Tim Peake’s spacecraft later in the year the museum has all the ingredients to entice visitors from all over the country and beyond. With stage 3 of the Tour de Yorkshire starting in Bradford in April, 2017 is shaping up to be a huge year for the city.”

The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that travelled to the ISS is due to go on show at the museum in September 2017, when visitors can see the capsule currently on display from sister site, the Science Museum in London.

The museum will also launch a major marketing campaign across print, online, TV and cinema this spring to promote Wonderlab and the venue.

The new Wonderlab will also feature a series of jaw-dropping live, immersive shows in the new 70-capacity theatre. Visitors will be part of spectacular experiments—from creating art together by drawing the universe with light and movement, to recreating the sound of a thunderstorm. Other interactive experiences include shooting smoke rings from giant air cannons using sound vibrations, the chance to explore an Egyptian pyramid with endoscope cameras, and exploding balloons with lasers.

Entry to the new gallery and entire museum will be free. 


Part of the Science Museum Group