Bristol-based science centre At-Bristol is to become We The Curious in an exciting evolution of the educational charity. The transformation will begin next month (September), and follows a two-year consultation with its staff, visitors, city partners and communities around Bristol, to develop a new, relevant vision and mission.
The centre has been awarded £3million in funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome’s ‘Inspiring Science’ Fund, a capital fund that helps science centres realise compelling new visions in what they do and what they offer to the public.
We The Curious marks the new direction and intention to create a culture of curiosity. It will be a creative, multi-disciplinary space and movement, where science and culture collide and collaborate. We The Curious aims to be a leading player in the global drive to champion the value of curiosity for everyone.
This shift was inspired by research conducted with visitors, staff, city partners and communities in 2015 and 2016, which indicated a desire for the science centre to be ‘more challenging’ and ‘for everyone’, giving At-Bristol a mandate to widen participation and bring more people into contact with new ideas.
The Inspiring Science funding will allow At-Bristol to create the physical realisation of the new direction with the complete redevelopment of the ground floor. It will be a playful, inclusive, collaborative space designed to appeal to people from all walks (and ages) of life, with the first major exhibition space driven entirely by the curiosity of the city. The Curious City project will open to the public in two phases.
The first phase, transitioning from At-Bristol to We The Curious, will begin in September 2017 alongside the development of a welcoming, open plan entrance foyer that works as a public space for everyone to enjoy. This space will also function as a place to gather questions and ideas from people that will gradually inform the content of the new exhibition space.
The second phase – the development of Curious City – is due to be carried out in late 2018 ready for 2019, and will see a host of new experiences and spaces inspired by questions from Bristol and beyond, including:
- The Theatre of Curiosity – a new space that encourages questioning and explores how science works
- Open city lab – a real, live research lab where anyone can participate, a public extension of university labs
- The Wall of Everything – an interactive experience, visible from outside as well as in, exploring where has curiosity taken us so far in terms of scientific endeavour
- A stunning digital interface where people contribute their questions and explore and answer others, both within the centre and beyond online
- Personalised digital technology throughout the centre to offer visitors a truly personal experience
With the re-development of the ground floor, We The Curious will work to address the misconception held by both children and adults that science is “not for me”. As an educational charity, the organisation currently sparks the curiosity of over 300,000 visitors, including 60,000 school students and teachers, and thousands more through free community programmes for those living in areas of Bristol that are currently under-represented in their visitors.
We The Curious will look to widen and strengthen its educational and social equality mission at a time when Bristol needs it most; only 13% of children from disadvantaged Bristol communities going to university compared to 44% in inner London, and there is a lack of diversity among those taking up Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and subsequent careers.
As part of the funding agreement, We The Curious will also be launching a fund-matching campaign to raise an additional £1.3million to support the transformation and ongoing activity.
Phil Winfield, the CEO of We The Curious, says:
“Since opening in 2000, the At-Bristol team have achieved so much. We’ve brought people from all backgrounds together around inspirational experiences, using interactive exhibits, hands-on experiments, workshops, activities, and presenter-led shows in the UK’s only 3D digital Planetarium.
“We run an extensive educational programme, supporting tens of thousands of students, from Pupil Referral Units and Special schools to local schools and colleges – to build their skills in practical, cutting edge science through our curriculum-enhancing programme. We welcome thousands of visitors from under-represented areas and communities of Bristol to enjoy At-Bristol for free on our Hello Weekends.
“But we want to do so much more.
“We believe in the power of curiosity. It unites both science and the arts. It helps us look at things with fresh eyes. It brings people together to solve the world’s smallest and biggest problems. Curiosity is a driver for exploration and learning, and curiosity is at the heart of creativity. If we can inspire curiosity our visitors are much more likely to continue their exploration beyond our walls.
“Thanks to the hard work of our team, the continued support of our visitors, and the funds granted to us by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome, At-Bristol have a rare and unique opportunity to inspire people to join us on a mission to increase curiosity in Bristol, the UK and beyond, under our new name, We The Curious.
“Together with our team of staff, volunteers, and leading scientists, artists and industrialists, community groups, friends and neighbours we will create a powerhouse of scientific enquiry and playful exploration for the city. We will inspire and encourage people to interact and question all that they see, asking them to think again and think more deeply about the world in which we live. We will help build a new age of curiosity by nurturing people’s inherent inquisitive natures.
“We believe that establishing a strong culture of curiosity in people of all ages and backgrounds helps to create a resilient, connected, creative and compassionate society that unites resources and disciplines to find solutions for some of the world’s toughest problems.
“Our new logo – which you’ll see in our building and online from 14 September 2017 – along with our new name, We The Curious, are the first opportunities for us to embrace and embody our values and inspire curiosity. Curious City will help bring our new vision to life – connecting science and culture, citizens and research in the first major science centre exhibition generated entirely by the curious questions of its city.
“The funding given to us by Wellcome and BEIS only goes part of the way to helping us achieve our new vision, so we are launching a campaign to raise a further £1.3 million to make Curious City a reality. By supporting this campaign you will create equal access to science, technology, engineering and maths for millions of young people and help launch the next generation of innovators on their journey of discovery.
“We invite you to join us as we enter a new chapter in our history and look forward to welcoming each and every one of you back through the doors at We The Curious as we build a culture of curiosity, together.”
Curious City Timeline
|September 11th – 13th||At-Bristol closes for phase one refurb|
|September 14th||We The Curious opens with new foyer space|
|September 2017 onwards||We The Curious start to gather questions and ideas from visitors to inform the content of the new exhibition space.|
|Late 2018||Building of Curious City – a host of new experiences and spaces inspired by questions from Bristol and beyond.|
|2019||Curious City opens.|
To find out more about We The Curious visit at-bristol.org.uk