Like Dolly the cloned sheep, the Science Museum isn't letting the grass grow under its feet. The arrival of Dolly's fleece in knitted jumper form is just the latest attraction in a series of changing exhibits and displays that has seen the museum named the English Tourist Board's "Visitor Attraction of the Year". It is just one of several awards to come the museum's way; others have included a Customer Charter Mark and, most recently, a Design Week award.
Of the 1.5 million visitors the museum receives each year, 300,000 are in organised school parties; nearly 30 per cent of these are in the eight to 11 age group. As there is a maximum capacity of 2,500 children a day, some days in the summer term are already booked close to capacity. And with six floors, 200,000 objects and 40 galleries, teachers are encouraged to book a complimentary planning visit to appreciate fully its size and to establish which galleries are appropriate to the age of their pupils.
New attractions include the Challenge of Materials gallery, which recently collected the top award for exhibition design in the annual Design Week Awards. It addresses molecular structure in a way that, with the aid of hands-on displays, enables even young children to understand why, for example, rubber is bouncy and steel is not. Elsewhere, a Science of Sport exhibition runs until the end of August and aims to explain how science operates in every aspect of work and leisure. It includes activities such as virtual volleyball, interactive snow boarding and a racing wheelchair.
Other new and forthcoming attractions include a temporary exhibition on the history of the special care baby unit and an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the National Health Service, which opens in October.
Dolly's jumper, however, will be temporarily removed on June 30 when it goes to Tokyo. Whether it will be flying BA(a)is not known.