A triumvirate of sites around the famous Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire will host a 15-month festival of science and sport as the West Midlands builds up to the 2012 London Olympics.
Science, Sport, Life will be held at Blists Hill Victorian Town, the Enginuity design and technology centre and Coalbrookdale Gallery, featuring activities devised by young people and volunteers utilising the museum’s collections to illustrate the synergy between science and top-class sport.
Coalbrookdale will host snapshots of heroes ranging from Captain Charles Webb, the first man brave enough to swim the English Channel, and football legend Billy Wright in their Sporting Life exhibition.
Enginuity’s Science of Sport show has persuaded the Henley River and Rowing Museum to temporarily part with its eight-man rowing boat which won an Olympic gold medal for Steve Redgrave and his athletic accomplices at the 2000 Olympics, perched alongside hi-tech equipment used to monitor skills such as reaction times.
Blists Hill goes for the sort of re-enactment it has made its own, staging a period version of the supposed original inspiration for the Olympic Games. The Community Games originated in nearby Much Wenlock after a local surgeon dreamed them up in 1850, and visitors will be able to try Victorian sports including quoits, croquet and Chariots of Fire racing when they are resurrected at the mock-up bygone town.
The escapades take place as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the four-year campaign of events across the country aimed at escalating a national sense of anticipation as the opening ceremony of the Games creeps ever nearer.
"Sport and science both play a vital role in our lives today," says Steve Miller, the Chief Executive of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
"The festival will take us through the decades, exploring the stories behind the headlines from 19th century sporting heroes to the latest 21st century space-age materials which help to create today's record-breaking performances by the world's greatest athletes."
Runs April 2011 – February 2012 at Enginuity and April 2011 – July 2012 at Coalbrookdale. Additional events will take place during the 2011 Cultural Olympiad Open Weekend, July 23-24 2011.