Insect wings, as seen in a solar microscope, c.1840 by William Henry Fox Talbot. National Media Museum Collection.

Media Space to open at Science Museum next June

Rebecca Atkinson, 02.11.2012
£4m galleries to showcase collections from Bradford's National Media Museum
The Science Museum in London has confirmed that its new Media Space galleries will open next June, hosting two paid exhibitions and a series of free installations each year.

The £4m project, which is a collaboration with the National Media Museum in Bradford (also part of the Science Museum Group), has been subject to delays and concerns over funding. In 2010, board members raised concerns about the “budget of the overall project and its feasibility”, according to photography magazine, Source.  

Earlier this year Charlotte Cotton, the project’s creative director, resigned, leaving a question mark over the future direction of the project. Hannah Redler has been appointed as head of Media Space and the Science Museum arts programme.

Ian Blatchford, director and chief executive of the Science Museum Group, said: “Media Space is a project that is long overdue. The national photography collection ought to be widely known and exhibited because it really is astonishing in quality and scale. We hope to reach diverse audiences and the dynamic, innovative and compelling programme at Media Space will make this happen.”

The new galleries will on the second floor of the Science Museum. They will include 500 sq m of temporary exhibition space, a 290 sq m flexible studio space for free installations and events, and a cafe area.

Virgin Media is sponsoring the studio space for three years. It also has a three-year sponsorship agreement with the Bradford International Film Festival, which is hosted by the city’s media museum.  

Media Space’s first exhibition will explore contemporary artists’ responses to scientific photography from 1850 to 1920. The exhibition of nearly 80 works will draw on historical photographs from the National Media Museum’s national photography collection as well as the Science Museum's collection.

The studio space will host an installation by art/design collective Universal Everything, in association with Hyundai Motor Company.

Redler said: “We’ve enjoyed a long history at Science Museum of bringing contemporary art interventions into our science galleries, but Media Space offers an unprecedented opportunity for our audiences to encounter photographers and artists’ own investigations into our collections.”

The capital cost of the project is £4m, with funding raised from a combination of corporate sponsorship, private donations and fundraising initiatives.

The Dana and Albert R Broccoli Foundation, which was set up by the family of the late James Bond producer, is a major donor, while £47,000 was raised through the sale of the Tom Ford dinner jacket worn by Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

A photography auction at Christie's in May raised £370,000 for the project.

The Science Museum has invested an undisclosed amount in Media Space. A spokeswoman said that more than 50% of the funding for the capital project came from private sources.