Go inside the Large Hadron Collider as Science Museum announces tour

By Culture24 Reporter | 03 February 2014

The Science Museum's Collider exhibition will head to Manchester in May ahead of an international tour

A photo of a woman silhouetted in the darkness against a bright yellow science installation
Underground at CERN, the Collider exhibition, which will make Manchester its first stop when it tours from the Science Museum© Nick Rochowski / Science Museum
The immersive exhibition, in which visitors are transported into part of the Large Hadron Collider, has attracted more than 25,000 people to the Science Museum in two months, witnessing theatre, video and sound art on a behind-the-scenes tour of the hallowed CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva.

“Because not everyone can go to CERN we thought we would bring CERN to London,” says co-curator Alison Boyle, calling the installation of the huge exhibition “simultaneously exciting and terrifying.”

“It’s been an incredible experience to see the scale of the place [CERN] and meet the people there and hear the passion that they have for their work.

“It was something that we really wanted to bring to our visitors.

“Although there has been quite a lot in the news recently about the [Nobel Prize-winning particle] Higgs-Boson, that is just the beginning of the LHC’s journey.

“The LHC was designed and built to answer a lot of fundamental questions about the universe. It is the greatest experimental endeavour in science.

“It’s about the value of pure human curiosity and I think that’s something which can inspire everybody.”

The exhibition’s star players, who include Olivier Award winners Michael Wynne (the playwright behind The Priory) and Finn Ross (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time), are “different” and “fantastic”, says Boyle.

“It’s not quite an exhibition, it’s not quite a piece of theatre – it is something that blends both.

“Right from the start we thought that the way to do that is to work with people who work in theatre because theatre transports you to other worlds.”

Fellow curator Dr Harry Cliff is in awe of the Collider.

“I think it’s hard not to be amazed by the ambition of what’s being done at CERN,” he says.

“It’s an amazing machine – everything about it is extreme or pushing the limits of what’s possible, and all of this just to find out about the world we live in.

“The whole exhibition is set up as a visit to CERN. You’ll be walking into reconstructed spaces of real spaces at CERN where you’ll see the objects set in context, and there will be projections of scientists and engineers talking to you about their work and about life at CERN.

“Potentially what we find out at the LHC could completely change the way we think about the universe.”

The uncanny recreation of the labs has won praise from Rolf Heuer, the Director General of CERN. Professor Brian Cox, who has a cameo in the show as a teaboy, says its arrival in the north-west will be fitting.

“Manchester is where modern particle physics began when Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus by smashing helium nuclei into gold foil, and that great intellectual adventure that continues in CERN today,” he explains.

“I can tell you that CERN is an extraordinary place, and the exhibition team have done a great job of capturing the excitement, awe and wonder of the LHC and particle physics.”

  • Collider: Step Inside the World’s Greatest Experiment is at the Museum of Science and Industry from May 23 – September 28 2014.

A photo of a recreation of a physics lab with a series of blue doors and a grey tunnel
Underground in the tunnels of CERN© Science Museum
A photo of a recreation of a physics lab
© Science Museum
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I was there with my children at the weekend and frankly it was very disappointing. Apart from being very short, it seemed to have been built with the intention of mocking a corridor at CERN rather than actually to teach us anything. Anyone with an interest in science will know everything being explained there from following science reporting in the popular media. The addition of some of the 'personal' stories fell rather flat and ultimately added nothing.
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