Museum trustees look for a catalyst
03 March 2006
A struggling chemical-industry museum in Manchester, UK, is undergoing a revamp in an attempt to attract more young visitors.
The government-regulated Millennium Commission granted £663 000 to the museum, Catalyst, following initial funding of £250 000 from the North West Development Agency. The money will be used to instigate major changes at the museum, including a wider scope that will encompass life sciences and pharmaceuticals.
The museum's reinvention brings with it a new name: Catalyst Science Discovery Centre (CSDC). Facilities will be upgraded to include Imax style screens, modern labs and interactive virtual-reality tours of two major local chemical plants.
Paul O'Brien, head of the school of chemistry at the University of Manchester, is a trustee of the museum. 'The museum had a very successful start and won several awards over the years but a lack of investment in infrastructure and a more modern approach to museum activities was lacking,' O'Brien told Chemistry World. 'Consequently the numbers of visitors and the enthusiasm of schools to visit were falling.'
Trustees of the new-look CSDC hope to attract more people to science as a career, said O'Brien. But he doesn't expect a significant change in applicants to read chemistry at Manchester: 'hoping for a direct yield is too much,' he said. The trustees also hope that more people will pursue science careers at all skill levels, he said, as technicians or medical laboratory officers, for example.