Since opening in 1983, the National Science + Media Museum has been renowned for its interactive exhibits, giving visitors a genuinely hands-on insight into its core subjects, demonstrating how the Museum has constantly been at the forefront of providing unique visitor experiences.
It is in keeping with this approach that the Museum developed the new £1.8 million gallery Wonderlab as one of its first major projects following its recent change in mission to explore the science and culture of image and sound technologies, and to inspire the scientists and innovators of the future.
Wonderlab takes the Museum’s core collections and looks at fundamental principles of light and sound that those technologies utilise, in a way that is designed to surprise, delight and inspire. The themes of light and sound, within and beyond human perception, are at the core of the experience.
The Museum’s project team worked in close association with the award-winning studio Ab Rogers Design and with 2D Design by LucienneRoberts+
What we did
The lighting design throughout was provided by Michael Grubb Studio, this followed on from the success of the Science Museum’s Wonderlab which opened in London in 2016. Much of the research and experimentation of this project was reused to provide new lighting ideas and content for the National Science + Media Museum.
This included the main entrance tunnel and the ‘Colour Room’ exhibit, inspired by the Museum’s rediscovery of the world’s first colour moving images created by Frederick Lee and Edward Turner in 1901/02.
This exhibit is an immersive environment within a semi enclosed space, where the lighting cycles through different wavelengths – bathing the room, its contents and the visitors in different coloured light. As the lights change different colours in the room’s décor come to prominence, and every so often, a white light reveals the true colour of objects within.
The project also commissioned a number of artists to produce exhibits showcasing their individual creativity in the exploration of light, sound and images. The commissioned artists were Owl Project and Liz West (both Manchester-based), Akinori Goto from Japan and Steve Manthorp and Shanaz Gulthar, aka Adept, from the Museum’s home city of Bradford.
Wonderlab is all about experimenting with science. Students can investigate how light and sound work through an amazing range of fun, interactive exhibits. Exciting live science shows will take them on a journey of discovery. Visitors are invited to think like a scientist and navigate their way through more than 20 mind-bending exhibits. Get lost in mirrors, make art using light, and travel through a laser tunnel. By experimenting, playing and exploring, students understand how light and sound are the building blocks of the technology they use every day.