London’s Natural History Museum opened in 1881 and is now home to one of the most extensive collections of mammoth skeletons and natural history specimen in the world. In keeping with its educational mission, the Investigate Gallery, a children’s science facility, was designed, developed and installed by Pentagram within the Clore Education Centre.
Investigate was conceived of as a hands–on learning center where children (and adults) can investigate and interact with objects from the museum’s collection. Through scientific exploration and investigation, as well as the integral use of internet technology, the Investigate Gallery combines experience with originality, tradition with innovation and the real world with the virtual. The space was designed to encourage children to think like scientists as they take advantage of the student–friendly scientific equipment and computer resources while they are guided by “Qcards” provided by the museum’s education department. Four triangular work stations allow multiple school groups to share the space.
The unique specimen wall holds objects from the museum’s collection. Hundreds of smaller samples are stored in sliding bins built into the walls that allow for an interactive experience as the students choose objects on which to focus their classifying, identifying, pattern–seeking and exploratory investigations. The samples are changed every season to ensure a fresh experience for returning visitors.
The new gallery accommodates in excess of 200,000 visitors a year and is the focal point of the Clore Education Centre that includes the 9,700 square foot assembly area we also designed as well as supporting classrooms and seminar areas.