The National Science and Media Museum is about to undergo a radical and ‘once-in-a-generation’ transformation ready to inspire millions of visitors to Bradford City of Culture in 2025. Huge changes will be delivered by December 2024, through a £6 million capital project called ‘Sound and Vision’, including two new galleries, a new passenger lift and improvements to the main entrance. 
 
To facilitate these works, the National Science and Media Museum has announced a period of temporary closure from June 2023 to summer 2024. The Sound and Vision Project will create two significant new galleries and increase the museum’s overall accessibility and relevance to key audiences.  
 
The galleries, accompanied by an engaging activity programme, will showcase key objects and stories from the museum’s world-class collections of photography, film, television, animation, video games and sound technologies. Thanks to National Lottery players, the project has been awarded initial funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop the transformational plans. The project also has support from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2022-24 and Bradford Metropolitan District Council. 
 
When the museum opened in 1983, it was home to ‘the largest cinema screen in Britain’ and continues to run an IMAX and Pictureville Cinemas, which remains a big part of its visitor offer. During the closure period Pictureville Cinema and Bar will continue to operate, open seven days a week with an enhanced programme, as this has separate entrance arrangements and facilities. 
 
The museum already provides many opportunities to learn about the principles of light and sound. It is at the forefront of STEM education and communication thanks to Wonderlab, its passionate team of Explainers, collaborative work with schools, plus festivals and events that bring the collections to life. The development of the new galleries will transform the heart of the museum, updating core collections displays to increase their relevance to local communities and deliver fully on the Science Museum Group’s mission to inspire futures and ambition to be open for all. 
 

  • The development will involve the complete remodelling of two floors of the building, opening up unused spaces and reimagining the display and interpretation of the core collections. 
  • In addition to the new galleries, the project will see the ground floor of the museum  reconfigured, creating a new public space and an enhanced visitor welcome. 
  • The installation of an additional passenger lift and the renovation of the existing lift will increase accessibility and enable all visitors to move around the building with ease. 
  • The project has sustainability at its heart, with set goals around energy and carbon reduction, resource efficiency, responsible procurement and sourcing of products and services used in the gallery, alongside wellbeing, and community skills and engagement strategies. 
  • The displays and interpretation will be informed by close consultation with local communities to ensure the museum’s relevance to visitors and engage underrepresented audiences.  
  • The new galleries will ensure the museum’s position as a cultural cornerstone when Bradford becomes City of Culture in 2025 and will align with ambitions to harness young audiences and foster new creative opportunities across the district. 
  • Sound and Vision also complements the city’s ambitious ten-year culture strategy Culture is our Plan and supports the wider region’s commitment to building a digital economy.  
  • A vibrant activity plan sits alongside the development of the new galleries. It supports greater access, new employment and volunteering opportunities and is focused on enabling more people – irrespective of class, race, age, ability, gender or faith – to engage with the museum.  
  • During the temporary closure period, a range of outreach activities with community groups and schools– in person and online – will enable audiences to stay in touch and track progress. 

The existing displays on levels three and five of the museum will gradually be removed from the beginning of February, so visitors are invited to come and say a temporary farewell to their favourite objects in the coming weeks. Wonderlab, the Kodak Gallery, Games Lounge and temporary exhibition space will remain open until the summer, with a dynamic public programme culminating in Bradford Science Festival 24 May – 4 June. 
 
In 2025, the city of Bradford expects to welcome visitors in unprecedented numbers. Thanks to this radical transformation, Bradford’s national museum will be a key attraction, inspiring wonder amongst audiences and ensuring its relevance for many years to come. 
 
Jo Quinton-Tulloch, the museum’s Director said: 

This major investment in the museum will radically transform our visitor offer both in terms of content and accessibility. In the new galleries, visitors will be able to find stories that resonate with them, showing how all areas of our collections – from photography to gaming – are embedded in every aspect of our lives, and inspiring the next generation of creatives, inventors and scientists. During the period of museum closure, we look forward to welcoming cinema visitors and working with local residents to curate the new galleries. 
 
With the additional lift and revamped foyer, we will be able to welcome many more visitors, which will be vital as we approach Bradford’s year as City of Culture in 2025. The new permanent displays on levels three and five and the enhanced public space in our new foyer will futureproof Bradford’s national museum for decades to come.
” 
 
Anne Jenkins, Executive Director of Business Delivery at The National Lottery Heritage Fund added: 
We are delighted to be supporting the National Science and Media Museum to develop their ambitious plans to transform their site and make this national and local treasure one of the star attractions for City of Culture 2025. In addition, the museum’s commitment to community engagement and skills development ensures that the Sound and Vision Project will have a lasting and meaningful impact.” 
 
Jennie Gilman, a volunteer working on the Bradford Community Broadcasting Sound and Vision radio programme said: 
 
"It's been a joy to co-produce the Sound and Vision radio show so far. A collaborative endeavour with the city's very own BCB, the show is just one example of the community-led projects being carried out in the run up to the opening of the new galleries. Volunteering with the museum has given me the opportunity to be a part of a dynamic team and to develop my radio production skills. The museum team’s excitement about the big changes that the new galleries will bring both to the museum and to Bradford is utterly infectious."

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