The newly refurbished Royal Institution of Great Britain opens its permanent exhibition next month, designed by consultancy Event.
Though a date is yet to be confirmed, the building – the subject of a £22m revamp and home to the scientific establishment for more than 200 years – is expected to house a permanent exhibition that has cost £3m to design and build.
London exhibition design consultancy Event has worked closely with architect Sir Terry Farrell on the building’s extensive upgrade, since winning a competitive tender in 2004.
The group, charged with ‘bringing science to life’, has created installa tions, exhibition pieces and interactive elements to take the Grade I-listed building into the 21st century.
Visitors will be able to look at the laboratories of Michael Faraday and experiment alongside a hologram of the famous chemist, while state of the art interactive e-guides will talk visitors through exhibits.
Already on display is a cutting-edge ‘14/10’ wall, cele – brating the lives of the 14 Nobel Prize winners who worked at the RI, and the ten periodic elements discovered there.
‘Celebrating people’ was the mainstay of Event’s strategy, says consultancy chief executive James Alexander.
‘The design brief was to tell the stories of the people who worked here as a way of breaking down barriers, and encourage a whole new generation of people to become interested in science and discovery,’ explains Alexander.
Allowing visitors access to working laboratories emphasises the image of the RI as ‘an alive and dynamic place of research’, he says. At the RI’s Time and Space bar and café, past and present collide in an experimental ceiling installation of scientific instruments, which Alexander says makes the space ‘vibrant and uplifting’.
Expensive and controversial, the project has been spear – headed by RI director Baroness Susan Greenfield, who sold off the institution’s entire £15m Mayfair property portfolio to pay for the cost of the refurbishment.
Greenfield says the RI was a charming but fusty old institution’, which needed to change, and outlines her vision of making science available to everyone, ‘to diffuse science for the common purpose of life’.
It is hoped that the dramatic redevelopment will transform the London landmark in to more of a ‘social meeting place’, in an effort to promote popular interest in science.
For more information, visit www.rigb.org.