Client: Science Museum Group

Location: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

Year:  2017


Brief: The reconfiguration and architectural refurbishment of existing Gallery space at the National Museum of Science and Media in Bradford, including creation of a dedicated show space and full design of new permanent exhibition ‘Wonderlab’ which explores the science that underpins the still and moving image (that forms the basis of the Museum’s historical collection) through the themes of light and sound, within and beyond human perception.

Ab Rogers Design (ARD) worked closely with the Science Museum project team to deliver the £1.8 Million ‘Wonderlab’ gallery as part of the re-launch as the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. Reflecting the esteemed permanent collection of film and photography, the new gallery explores the science that underpins the still and moving image and aims to inspire the innovators of the future.

The themes of light and sound, within and beyond human perception, are at the core of the experience. As well as serving the target audience of 7-14 year olds, the design looked to create an engaging interactive open plan environment that would stimulate social interaction, dialogue and learning around the exhibits, appealing to a cross-generational audience.

The gallery carries multiple interactive works and installations, and extends to a dedicated 70-capacity event space for a range of demanding science demonstrations. ARD embraced the challenge of working with several different exhibit manufacturers and creators to develop the gallery content. We created a created a consistent, coherent language for the gallery and its diverse collection of exhibits and spaces through play of open, partial and fully-enclosed volumes, with an honest language of content insertions within an overarching display housing language.

The exhibits sit in an orbital plan, distributed in radial waves across the space, with the housings arcing around the showcase ‘Science on a Sphere’ animated sun at the centre of the gallery. This is the energy source and the organising structure of the gallery, the hub. Centre-facing surfaces appear activated by its light through an array of dynamic graphic treatments and colour spectrum accents. Interpretation units and exhibits themselves radiate energetically through their gloss finish and self-illumination. The ambition is for the visitor to perceive a rich, immersive space in which the exhibits and science comes to the fore, through a collection of wonderful, luminous phenomena.

ARD worked closely with the design team – Michael Grubb Studio (Lighting) and LucienneRoberts+ (Graphics) – to develop room-based installations that would form the cornerstones of the gallery and deliver key science learning outcomes: the Infinity Mirror Maze, Colour and UV Room and Light Tunnel.