The Science Museum has today announced it will be opening a new permanent gallery dedicated to technicians in 2022, designed by Copenhagen-based design consultancy JAC Studios.
Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery will be a free interactive gallery dedicated to 11 to 16-year-olds, which aims to showcase technician jobs across four sectors: advanced manufacturing, the creative industries, health and energy.
“Experiencing everything in a connected way”
Technicians will be the first major UK project undertaken by JAC Studios, according to founder and artistic director Johan Carlsson.
Located next to the museum’s atrium, he says the space will “celebrate” the existing Science Museum building. Previously hidden windows will be uncovered, and daylight will be used to keep the space feeling “open and honest”, Carlsson says.
Rather than feeling “closed in”, he explains the design will facilitate visitors seeing and connecting with each other. “Visitors won’t get the feeling of walking from one area to another, but of experiencing everything in a connected way,” Carlsson says.
“Like a kit of parts”
This is achieved with a three-dimensional grid-like structure. While the four sectors focused on in the gallery are very different, this structure will help showcase the similarities between different technician roles, Carlsson says.
“In one way or another, all technicians are connected to each other and also to the world we live in,” he says. “The design almost feels like a kit of parts, like a model, where all the little pieces are needed to create the final object.”
Carlsson says sustainability has been a huge factor in developing the structure, with the team opting to only use responsibly-sourced wood. Additionally, green power sources have been used to build the set.
While the gallery is intended to be a permanent fixture at the museum, he says thought has still been given to disassembly of the structure to encourage reuse. The joints that have been used help with this and make it easier for any updates to the gallery which might come about over the course of its lifetime.
Each section is still a “thematic world” in its own right including interactive elements, designed in collaboration with Science Museum staff and educators.
Some will be digital, and others more hands-on, Carlsson says. Technician responsibilities that have inspired the interactive activities include operating manufacturing robots, creating visual effects for films, fixing wind turbine faults and analysing medicines in a lab.
The designer expects these to be highlights of the experience when it opens. In particular, he points to a planned 1:1 film set and health science lab. “These interactive elements will help teach kids first-hand how these roles work,” he says.
800,000 more technicians needed
It is estimated that there are 1.5 million technicians – across areas as diverse as movie special effects, archaeology and welding – currently working in the UK today. Demand for these roles is increasing, with around 800,000 more needed.
Announcing the gallery, Science Museum director and chief executive Ian Blatchford said its aim was to “challenge out-dated perceptions” and “generate excitement” among young people for a potential career as a technician.
Commenting on the design, he said the gallery would be a “visually dazzling” tribute to technicians. He went on to add that the opening of the gallery would compliment the introduction of T-Level qualifications.