A brand new experience opens at Winchester Science Centre
Southern England’s leading science and discovery centre reopens on Saturday 17 October with a brand new visitor experience
From Saturday 17 October, visitors to Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium can find out how far their curiosity will take them as they embark on an exhilarating adventure through a brand new visitor experience! The biggest single project undertaken at the Science Centre since opening in 2002, has seen the entire top floor of the two storey venue completely transformed. Visitors will experience a brand new immersive exhibition, new experimentation zone, a dedicated live demo area, refreshed welcome area, shop and café and an innovative Recombobulation Room – a quiet place designed for people who need time away from the hustle and bustle of the Science Centre.
Following a two and a half year programme from design to construction, the £1.1million development is ready to welcome its first visitors. Guests will feel their senses come alive as they explore the sights and sounds of the exciting new interactive exhibition themed around sound, hearing and vibration. Designed to coincide with the International Year of Sound 2020, visitors will go on a journey of discovery into what sound is through giant installations, such as a huge 10m long playable guitar, acoustic sonic rocket and giant ear, and smaller table top exhibits including tuning forks and pendulums.
Alongside the new exhibition, visitors will also be able to experience explosive science experiments taking place right on the exhibition floor in Science LIVE – a new demo area. There’ll be fire, ice, explosions and much more, all on a massive scale and taking place regularly throughout the day. And for something a little more tranquil, guests are invited to get creative and have a go at challenges themed around nature in the inside/outside experimentation zone BIO:SPACE.
Ben Ward, Chief Executive of Winchester Science Centre, said: “Sound is so important to our everyday lives and our aim is to showcase this in a fun, educational and accessible way. Our charity’s ambition is to make STEM (science technology, engineering and maths) accessible to everyone and we hope that we are one step closer to achieving this through our new visitor experience. It’s incredible to finally see our dream turned into a reality and we can’t wait to hear what our visitors think!”
To ensure the designs stayed true to the Science Centre’s guiding principle of ‘no decision about me, without me’, concepts were stress-tested for accessibility and fun via two consultation panels: an Accessibility Advisory Panel, individuals who represent a wide range of disability and impairment, and a Young Persons’ Steering Group, children aged 8 – 12 representing the Science Centre’s primary user. The team also worked with internationally renowned exhibition and narrative designers Houghton Kneale Design Ltd (HKD), to bring their vision to life, and construction was completed by experienced exhibition fabricators, The Moule Partnership (TMP).
Acoustic consultancy was also provided throughout the project by Peter Rogers, director of Winchester based Sustainable Acoustics, not just on what should be included in the exhibition but also on how the venue itself could help improve education and knowledge of sound. With a unique pyramid-shaped structure made from concrete, glass and steel, the Science Centre was sometimes noisy and overwhelming. As a result, noise ‘hot-spots’ were identified and global manufacturers of acoustic solutions, Ecophon, and industry leader in sustainable acoustic treatments, Woolly Shepherd, were brought on board to provide solutions that focus on solving sound problems and improving ambient noise as well as providing an aesthetically pleasing environment for visitors.
The top floor transformation forms part of a bigger project that started in 2019 to make Winchester Science Centre and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) accessible to everyone. This included the installation of pioneering technology in the Planetarium allowing subtitled shows, personalised audio tracks and 3D printed tactile resources for those with hearing and visual impairments and the opening of a registered Changing Places toilet.
Full funding for the transformation was secured at the end of 2019 thanks to a grant from the Biffa Award, a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to projects across the UK. Support for the project has also come from Enterprise M3 LEP, Garfield Weston Foundation, Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council.
Find out more about what's new at Winchester Science Centre here.
The photos below are a selection taken from preview events held prior to opening.