Our winter After Hours begin on 29 October, but first, on Friday 24 September we are throwing open our doors until 22.00 for After Hours: Science Uncovered.
Don't miss our biggest-ever after hours event on Friday 24 September as we join a Europe-wide festival
All across Europe, in over 200 cities, final preparations to kindred events that take place on that night are being made and harrowed-looking event managers (if we are anything to go by) will be crossing their fingers that all will go well.
Stephen Roberts, our Nature Live Manager, who with his colleague Ivvet Modinou, has worked extremely hard on the event (along with the rest of the project team), and was responsible for bringing it to the Museum in the first place, says that London needs an event like this and the Museum must be the best place for it.
‘Over 4 million people come to the Museum every year and we have over 300 science staff but, until the opening of the Darwin Centre last year, relatively few of them get to see our scientists, let alone chat.
'After Hours: Science Uncovered changes the balance when an astonishing 60 of our own scientists as well as others from across London have pulled out all the stops to join in a European festival of science called Researchers' Night. We have watched with interest as this initiative, now involving over 500,000 members of the public in Europe, has grown and this year we have thrown ourselves in lock, stock and barrel.'
At our event there are over 50 different activities going on, ranging from 30 minute tours and Nature Live events in the Attenborough Studio to our Natural History Roadshow and science stations covering an astounding breadth of our science and collections that you can pop by for a few moments. In The Science Bar you can discuss the hot science of the day, from climate change to life on Mars and everything inbetween or, if you like, just kick back and enjoy a drink and soak up the atmosphere.’
Jon Ablett, pictured left, is one of the several zoologists you can meet on the night. He'll be introducing us to The Giant Squid in his Nature Live talk.
You can also enjoy a glass of champagne or wine in our Red Bar in Fossil Way, and if you have an interesting specimen, or a story related to the natural world, you can go along to the Hendrick's Bar of Curious Concoctions in the Darwin Centre, and get a free gin and tonic!
I also wanted to get a quote from my boss, the Director of Public Engagement, Sharon Ament, about what After Hours: Science Uncovered means to her. As things have been so madly busy here with the event, I ended up having to trail her with a notebook down in the lift as she left for the day. Here's what she said:
‘It’s fun, it’s insightful, it’s never been done before. Science is international, and this shows the effort that goes into high quality science in the European Union. After Hours: Science Uncovered will be exciting for everyone taking part in it, our scientists and our visitors. There is nothing like getting up close with science, and this is a brilliant opportunity to do just that. It is great that we are participating in a Europe-wide event. Imagine how across Europe, scientists will be engaging with over half a million people on the same night – it has been a fantastic opportunity for us to take part in this’.
It really has been a fantastic opportunity working on this After Hours, and we are looking forward to a feast of science and great craic with our visitors, as the Irish say.
I went to a seminar today when one of our research scientists, Dr Greg Edgecombe, talked with us about his field work in Greenland on Micrognathozoa. I am no scientist, and this was an area of science utterly unknown to me. But it was truly fascinating to learn something perfectly new – and I hope that those of you who come to After Hours: Science Uncovered, will experience something similar.
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