Attractions industry news

06 Sep 2017

Inspiring Science Fund awards share of £13m to five UK science centres

Five science centres in the UK are to receive a combined £13m (US$17m, €14.2m) in funding to encourage new and different ideas that will help to make science more accessible to the general public.

Awarded through the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Wellcome Trust – the fund offers new capital developments such as new exhibition spaces and learning centres, and the opportunity to develop meaningful engagement with underserved and underrepresented audiences.

Newcastle’s International Centre for Life has been awarded £2.6m (US$3.4m, €2.8m), which will be used to create new exhibitions and a programme of science engagement initiatives with community groups in the region.

Called Creative Explorations, the project will feature a space-themed exhibition and a maker space, which will be able to be displayed in the science centre and at community venues and events across the North East of England. Alongside this, funds will be used to create a more targeted community programme, looking specifically at teenagers with autism, young people in the care system and the foundation of a new Children’s Community in the west of Newcastle.

Science centre At-Bristol, soon to relaunch as We The Curious, will receive £3m (US$3.9m, €3.3m) from the fund, with a new aim to “create a culture of curiosity” as a “multi-disciplinary space where science and culture collide and collaborate.”

As part of the investment, the centre will revamp its foyer, café and shop, to create an open public space, while a brand new feature exhibit is being created on the ground floor.

Thinktank – the science museum in Birmingham – has been awarded £1.4m (US$1.8m, €1.5m) for its child-sized mini city, aiming to deliver new methods of teach STEM subjects to young children.

Due to open in February 2019, the £2m (US$2.6m, €2.2m) 1,000sq m (10,800sq ft) interactive gallery will quadruple the science museum’s space dedicated to under eights, with the new addition to be supported by a programme of community co-production and early years research.

In Scotland, Aberdeen Science Centre will receive £3m (US$3.9m, €3.3m) towards its £4.7m (US$6m, €5.1m) redevelopment, which will double existing exhibition space at the museum.

In addition to increasing it capacity, the expansion “will bring the science centre into the 21st century”, as it is transformed into a “future looking hub”.

Finally in Northern Ireland, Belfast’s W5 will receive £3m (US$3.9m, €3.3m), which will be used to create new immersive exhibition areas and experiences where visitors can become fully absorbed and engaged. According to W5, new approaches to technology financed by the fund will enable dynamic content and create more flexibility in how the space can be used.

“Wellcome believes that everyone should have the opportunity to explore, debate and shape research,” said Simon Chaplin, director of culture and society at Wellcome.

“Science centres across the UK provide welcoming spaces that ignite curiosity and enable visitors to explore the role of science in culture. We are delighted to be supporting the creation of exciting and inclusive new science experiences as well as helping to sustain these science centres for the future.”

Applications for the next round of Inspiring Science Fund funding are now open. The deadline for preliminary submissions is 19 October.

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