Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum is to close for a year to undergo a £6m transformation ahead of the City of Culture 2025 festival.
The capital project, Sound and Vision, will include two new galleries, a new passenger lift and a reconfiguration of the ground floor and welcome area.
The development will transform the museum with an update to core collections and displays to ensure their relevance to local communities, as well as displaying key objects from the museum’s original collection.
The Science Museum Group, which runs the site, hopes to fulfil its mission to inspire futures and make ambition available to all by “harnessing young audiences and fostering new creative opportunities across the district.”
The project will focus on sustainability and has set goals to reduce the museum's carbon footprint and become more energy efficient. The institution also plans to responsibly source the materials and services used in the developments.
The new displays and their interpretations will be the product of close consultation with local communities to ensure maximum engagement, especially for underrepresented audiences. The development will be accompanied by an activity plan that aims to support “greater access, new employment and volunteering opportunities.”
The project supports Bradford’s 10-year Culture is Our Plan scheme, which aims to get more people involved in cultural activities and give Bradford more national and international recognition. The developments will also “support the wider region’s commitment to building a digital economy.”
Online and in-person activities with community groups and schools will take place throughout the closure period from June 2023 to Summer 2024. During this time the Pictureville Cinema and Bar, which has been a part of the museum since it opened in 1983, will remain open seven days a week, showing an enhanced programme.
The project has been awarded initial funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and also has support from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2022-24 and Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
“The Sound and Vision Project will revitalise our collections displays, so we can fully reflect our world-class collections of photography, film, television, video games and sound technologies," said Charlotte Connelly, head curator at the National Science and Media Museum.
"The museum cares for some remarkable objects, from the very first motion image camera, built and used by Louis le Prince, who filmed arguably the earliest moving image footage in the world, to the fangs worn by Christopher Lee in ‘Dracula’. Alongside these iconic objects, the gallery will also help our visitors to explore their everyday experiences in relation to sound and vision technologies.
"If you’ve ever wondered why people might say 'watch the birdie' when taking a photograph, you can come and see an early 'birdie'; if you’re curious about the materials in your technology, you can investigate the component parts; and if you’d like to know how the digital revolution changed the world, you can find out about the science and technology behind digital sounds and images and their effects on all of us.
"We’re pleased to be working closely with our community groups in Bradford as we develop the stories and displays in our new galleries and look forward to welcoming them into our new spaces.”
"A fundamental aspect of the Sound and Vision Project is our work with local communities, which will ensure the revamped galleries are relevant and accessible to a wide range of people," said Christopher Whitby, the museum's head of learning. "The project prioritises audiences who are traditionally less engaged with the museum, and at the same time we are committed to representing the diversity and make up of Bradford."
Whitby added: "We are all excited to work with local communities and create something amazing for the museum and the city in readiness for 2025 and indeed for decades to come."