The eagerly awaited interactive exhibition Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery is opening at the National Railway Museum this week.
It’s the museum’s largest new gallery in over a decade, and is finally opening after five years in development – and is the first of the multimillion pound Vision 2025 projects to open.
It will feature 18 exciting hands-on interactive exhibits, live science shows and demonstrations and is aimed at families with children aged 7-14, and for anyone who’s a big kid at heart.
Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery is opening on Thursday 27 July.
The Wonderlab aims to inspire visitors around the themes of railways and engineering, and encourages visitors to ‘think like an engineer’ and engage with science and maths in a fun and interactive way.
The gallery is housed in the museum’s former locomotive workshop building next to the Great Hall.
Judith McNicol, director of the National Railway Museum, said: “Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery represents the first area of the museum to undergo significant changes as part of our Vision 2025 masterplan and the result is a fantastic new interactive gallery that is a real asset for visitors and the city.
“The gallery was developed in partnership with the rail industry and other experts and we have listened to visitor feedback about the need for more interactive, hands-on experiences.
“We want to ensure that children have great fun while developing a spark of interest in engineering.”
There will be a live science show as part of the gallery titled Fire Powered, which will demonstrate how safe explosions can be created and controlled to make an engine work.
Other highlights include a giant wind tunnel, kinetic sand, giant marble runs, friction tests and much more.
The gallery also features two commissioned installations from renowned artists Steve Messam (Mass) and Pippa Hale (Play Revolution).
The brightly coloured inflatable sculpture Mass at the centre of the gallery is 12 metres high and 16 metres wide and uses air under pressure to support itself.
Commenting on his latest artwork for Wonderlab, Steve Messam said: “Mass came about because I wanted something that had a strong visual impact that would command the large museum space and create a visual focal point.
“The artwork is very bold and stands taller than a house and I want people to have an emotional reaction when they experience it for the first time.
“Art is about experimenting and pushing the boundaries and engineering is all about finding solutions, so it feels appropriate that it is to be part of Wonderlab.”
Visitors will also be able to build and design large scale structures like bridges and towers in Pippa Hale’s Play Revolution – and is inspired by the museum’s archives and collections with input from children and young people from The Snappy Trust.
Wonderlab has been designed by architects De Matos Ryan who previously worked on the newly reopened Young V&A in London.
The gallery’s major funding partner is the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation who have supported with a gift of £2.5m towards its creation in March 2022.
The gallery opens from Thursday 27 July. Day tickets for the gallery start at £7.20 or an annual pass (starting from £13) allows you to return as many times as you like within one year.
For more information and to book your tickets and time slots, visit the National Railway Museum website.
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