... blasted open at long last!
When alighting at the top of our globe escalator in the Red Zone's Earth hall, from now on visitors will be greeted by an explosion of colour and dramatic installations as they enter the new Volcanoes and Earthquake gallery.
Volcanoes and Earthquakes, our new permanent gallery, blasts open today, 31 January.
Alex Fairhead, interpretation manager for the new gallery, gives us an introduction:
''The earthquakes are back. Eleven months after our older The Power Within gallery was closed for refurbishment and, after two years in the planning, today sees the opening of Volcanoes and Earthquakes - a new, free permanent gallery in the Museum. In the exhibition we showcase about 120 specimens and objects. With these we explore the origins, geology, scientific understanding and human impact of our planet's most powerful natural forces.
The new gallery has three themed zones: volcanoes, plate tectonics and earthquakes.
'For the gallery's design, we took inspiration from the structure of rock strata and continental plates and you can see that in the jutting, layered walls. The exhibition leads visitors through three themed areas: volcanoes, plate tectonics and earthquakes. The final encounter is inside the Museum’s renowned earthquake simulator, a re-creation of the supermarket scene during Japan's 1996 Kobe earthquake.
A heat suit worn by volcanologists towers tall in the centre of the gallery. It can withstand temperatures of up to to 1,000˚C.
'There are a few surprises for visitors as they make their way through the gallery. The pink flamingo's feathers hide a volcanic secret, a 4,000 year old copper dagger holds the key to Cyprus’ underwater origins, and a giant catfish that was once thought to be the cause of earthquakes looms large.
In Japanese mythology, the giant catfish was considered to be the cause of earthquakes.
'It's a gallery that was always popular with families and schools and we've really enhanced the content for this audience in the transformation. There are interactive quizzes and games, CGI films, touch objects includng a meteorite and lava bomb, and an in-depth explanation of the science behind these epic natural phenomena that have literally rocked our world.'
A shaky final encounter in the gallery's Kobe supermarket earthquake simulator.
The Volcanoes and Earthquake gallery is a free permanent gallery. To visit, the nearest Museum entrance is our Exhibition Road entrance.
Come and be blown away.