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Marvel Studios and NHS to work with Science Museum on new Technicians gallery

Architect's sketches of Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery at the Science Museum © JAC Studios
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Today the Science Museum announced four of the organisations it is working with for Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery, a unique interactive gallery which celebrates the vital but often hidden role of technicians. Collaborations with Marvel Studios, the NHS, National Grid and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre will help bring the overlooked but crucial world of technicians to life, with visitors able to try one-of-a-kind interactive exhibits which mimic the tasks technicians perform every day and meet real-life technicians in the gallery.

Although an estimated 1.5 million technicians currently work in the UK – from archaeological technicians to veterinary nurses and welding technicians – too few young people aspire to be technicians or know about these roles and the pathways to them. Opening on 3 November 2022, this free gallery seeks to change perceptions of technical careers and inspire tomorrow’s technicians. Visitors can explore where technicians work, hear their inspirational stories, and experience what it’s like to be a technician through interactive exhibits which showcase technicians working in four key sectors: advanced manufacturing, creative industries, health science, and energy networks.

It is technicians in the creative industries who make the incredible scenes from blockbuster movies possible. Thanks to a close collaboration with Marvel Studios, a centrepiece of the new Technicians gallery will be the reconstructed film set for Shuri’s Lab from the hugely successful film, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther. Visitors can re-enact the role of a film-set lighting technician, tasked with adjusting the lighting brightness, colour and intensity to correctly light the set, work as a post-production sound technician to seamlessly match sound and dialogue to a real scene and use the precision of a visual effects technician to skilfully integrate virtual objects into footage from the film.

With a design inspired by the exterior of The Royal London Hospital, the health science section of Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery will focus on the role of pharmacy technicians who create bespoke drugs for patients in NHS hospitals. Visitors will be able to try out their analysis and measurement skills through interactive exhibits which mimic the life-saving tasks – such as preparing an IV bag, checking medicines for contaminants and pipetting – something NHS technicians must perform daily with exceptional accuracy.

Sujata Patel, NHS Aseptic Pharmacy Technician said: 

I work in a little-known part of pharmacy called Aseptics. We make life saving chemotherapy for cancer patients and intravenous nutrition for neonatal and adult patients every day. The Technicians gallery will give us a unique opportunity to showcase the important work we do in the background at major hospitals. It’s been a great journey contributing to the gallery and the team at the Science Museum have sought to really understand what we do and have come up with amazing ways to bring the roles to life and depict the precision needed in this job. I’m sure the exhibits will inform, enlighten and encourage people to pursue rewarding careers in many vital technician roles.’

A huge wind turbine model will greet visitors to the energy networks section of the gallery, which reveals the technicians, often working outdoors or in extreme environments, who build, maintain and repair the energy networks which power our world. Visitors can take on the role of a wind turbine maintenance technician, diagnosing and solving problems then checking their fix has succeeded with a virtual wind turbine model, or pilot a remotely operated vehicle on the ocean floor, studying multiple camera feeds and weather charts while operating a range of piloting controls to successfully clear obstructions from an underwater trench.

Alyssa Blackledge, a National Grid technician who is training to be a substation craftsperson, said:

‘It’s an exciting time to join the energy sector and to be part of a workforce that’s keeping the lights on and tackling climate change. As we work to deliver on net zero, we’re going to need more people with different ideas and backgrounds to join the sector in the years and decades ahead. I hope people enjoy engaging with the different displays and that the exhibits inspire them to pursue STEM careers. It’s been a great experience to contribute to this gallery and have the opportunity to show young people the different aspects of technician roles in a really realistic way.’

Visitors can experience the work of technicians at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre by testing innovative designs using computer aided design and experimenting with simple coding to optimise the movement of a robotic arm, watching it in action in a task inspired by the use of robotics in recycling facilities. The enjoyment of taking apart an old games console to see how it worked inspired one individual to begin a technical career and that deconstructed games console can be seen on display alongside another inspiring object, a bespoke prosthetic leg made for a ballet dancer by advanced manufacturing technicians at Imperial College London.

Rebecca Wright, an advanced manufacturing technician, said:

‘As a technician at the AMRC I help make other people’s jobs easier and less time-consuming, it’s a role that is constantly challenging and I am forever learning new skills. This gallery is such a fantastic idea because now other people can see what technicians do and understand why our work is so important. It feels amazing to know that others might be inspired by what I do; I hope that young people look at me and realise they can achieve something regardless of what they look like or their background. In some ways it’s overwhelming to think my face is going to be seen by thousands of people in a public gallery, but it’s certainly a real privilege.’

Education groups, including schools, home educators and youth groups, can now add the Technicians gallery to their itinerary when they book their next visit to the museum, making use of a new online booking system for groups which launched today. Schools can also book free hands-on gallery workshops with real-life technicians, which will immerse young people in the daily tasks that technicians perform and provide insights into the skills needed to do their job. The workshops will also encourage young people to explore their own skills and consider a wide range of technical careers that they might enjoy.

Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery is supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation as Principal Funder and will open at the Science Museum on 3 November 2022. The gallery has been designed by JAC Studios, Denmark.

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