ThinkTank secures £1.4m in funding for a new interactive exhibit

Plans for a new £2m interactive children’s gallery at a Birmingham museum have been boosted with a £1.4m grant from the Inspiring Science Fund.

The science fund, a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome, will enable the new facility at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum to progress.

The interactive gallery, under the working title ‘MiniBrum’, is intended to stimulate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) by making learning more fun.

The attraction will engage youngsters as they are guided through a child-sized mini-city in which children and families can safely explore, play and learn in a unique and interactive way.

Due to open in February 2019, the gallery will quadruple Thinktank’s dedicated area for under eights, with the aim of enhancing the visitor experience.

The playful learning environment will encourage children to use maths and science to explain the world around them, helping them to develop the confidence and interest to pursue STEM subjects.

Using hands-on interactive exhibits and replica objects, the gallery will introduce children to the idea of Birmingham as a city where they live, how the city works and their place within it.

The gallery will be created in collaboration with families, children, specialists and educators, alongside expert advisory panels. The plans also include an additional classroom within the space to increase the capacity for school group visits to Thinktank.

Lauren Deere, Museum Manager at Thinktank, said:

“We are thrilled to have secured this funding settlement which will help to realise our ambitious plans for a new interactive gallery at Thinktank. By working directly with children we aim to create a truly unique and engaging space that places joint emphasis on learning through STEM and children’s wellbeing.

“It is important for us to plan for the future of the museum to ensure we are offering the best experience to visitors, while reaching a growing diverse audience in the city so young people have the opportunity to be inspired by STEM subjects and have fun.”

The total project costs are £2m, of which 70% has been funded by the Inspiring Science Fund. Other funders include The Rowlands Trust, The 29th May Charitable Trust, City of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery Development Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Grimmitt Trust and DCMS Wolfson, leaving just 8% of the total still to be raised.

Thinktank is the leading West Midlands venue for public engagement with STEM, engaging around 250,000 visitors onsite and through outreach programmes. The new attraction will replace the existing under-eights gallery and is part of a wider masterplan to develop the museum throughout the next 10 years.

The science museum is part of Birmingham Museums Trust, which is one of the largest museum trusts in England and welcomes over one million visitors each year across all nine sites.

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