Culture Minister David Lammy attended the Natural History Museum today to announce the government's commitment to promoting science in the UK.
'I want to put on record the huge role scientific institutions make in educating new generations,' said Lammy. 'Science is a tremendously important part of our cultural heritage and a vital part of our shared future, and something that doesn't receive as much public attention as it should.'
The Minister talked of how the role played by institutions such as the Natural History Museum is becoming ever-more important.
'Today, museums are no longer the rather static, dusty places some of us, or our parents, remember. They are vital, dynamic, inspiring places, which with the triple boost of free entry, Lottery funding and investment through Renaissance in the Regions, are inspiring and educating more people, particularly young people, than ever before.'
Lammy says of the Natural History Museum in particular, 'I am inspired when I come into the Museum, seeing the amount of young people with their families and the scale and range of collections, and the endeavour staff make to reinvent science as a way to inspire new audiences.'
The Minister explained the vital job of engaging groups in our communities that have been excluded, suggesting that everyone needs to be involved, from school children to people learning outside the classroom.
'We need to be nurturing the next generation of people who will put together the new vaccines that will make poverty history and create the new technologies that change our lives for the better.'
Lammy mentioned the Nature Live events at the Museum as a way to get the next generation involved and inspired. 'Nature Live brings together the Natural History Museum's 350 research scientists and its visitors to explore, discover and discuss the natural world and our place within it. Through this, the Museum's scientists engage directly with school children, making their vocation come alive.'
Lammy described how science is increasingly at the centre of everyday issues, from BSE and bird flu, to vaccines and phone masts.
There is a diverse source of information available to the public and people need to be able to weigh up values, risks and benefits.
'Finding ways to engage the public in these discussions, I think, is crucial to fully restoring the bonds of trusts between science and society.'
'The relationship between science and the public is changing. People are more assertive in all walks of life, as consumers on the high street, as citizens accessing public services, and as communities demanding more say over their local areas'.
'It's through museums and other institutions in civil society that interest, debate and trust can be built.'
'The future of science and our success as a society are becoming ever-more closely linked. And your role in binding the two together, for the good of both, is vital.'