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The National Science and Media Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday. Please book free museum admission or cinema tickets online in advance

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Café Scientifique

Join us for an evening discussion event at the museum and online. Everyone’s welcome to help us explore the latest ideas in science and technology.

Next event

The next event will take place on Thursday 30 September 2021 from 18.30. This will be a ‘hybrid’ event, taking place both at the museum and online—the talk will be given live in the Café and will also be broadcast on Zoom. When you book free tickets, you will be able to choose which version of the event you would like to attend.

Fairies Photographed! The Case of the Cottingley Fairies

Professor Christine Ferguson

In December 1920, The Strand Magazine published a series of sensational photographs taken by two young girls from Cottingley that allegedly showed real-life fairies dancing at the bottom of their garden. Their authenticity was vouched for by no less a person than world-famous author and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. The images immediately triggered a fierce public debate: were they evidence of the existence of otherworldly nature spirits, of the technical craft and duplicity of their creators, or of the suspect nature of photography itself? The cameras used to produce the pictures, along with Elsie Wright’s famous 1983 ‘confession’ letter, are today held in the collection of the National Science and Media Museum.

In this talk, Professor Christine Ferguson, Chair in English Studies at the University of Stirling and Principal Investigator on the Media of Mediumship project, will discuss what these objects can tell us about the long-standing relationship between technological innovation and alternative spiritual belief in modern Britain.

In a short flash event to accompany the talk, Cecil Green Arts will perform an exciting, beautiful show of the illuminated faeries they have made, inspired by this story. Sponsored by Bradford 2025 City of Culture Bid.

What you need to know

  • This event is free, but booking is required
  • Donations are welcome! You can donate online 
  • Café Scientifique is suitable for all ages and abilities, but some events may have adult themes or content

Information for online attendees

Image gallery

Future events

What is Café Scientifique?

Café Scientifique is a friendly and collaborative exploration of the latest breakthroughs in science. You’ll hear about, discuss and debate some of the most recent advances and discoveries in science and healthcare, and their importance to society.

Each event has a theme—they’ve included everything from the latest in physics to the science of music, from nanotechnology to biology.

Café Scientifique is a great way to meet new people and exercise your mind. Discuss the discoveries you’ve seen in the headlines, or learn something completely new.

Keep up to date—follow Café Scientifique on Facebook and Twitter.

Part of the Science Museum Group