The National Science and Media Museum, formerly the National Media Museum (and before that, the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television), is Bradford’s top attraction. It has seven floors of galleries with a focus on the history, culture and the underlying science of photography, film and television.
What to see at the National Science and Media Museum
The museum has seven permanent galleries depicting various aspects of the history, art and science of photography, film and television. The exhibition galleries are complemented by three cinemas including Europe’s first IMAX cinema.
Permanent galleries at the National Science and Media Museum
The permanent exhibition space includes:
The Kodak Gallery focuses on the history of photography and includes some of the world’s first photos in addition to photos and artefacts from 35,000 items from donated by Kodak. Exhibits in the Kodak Gallery include a display about the early pioneers of photography (including Louis Daguerre, Nicéphore Niépce and Henry Fox Talbot), a replica 1865 photography studio, an exhibit showing how photography became a popular hobby after the introduction of the Brownie camera in 1900 and an exhibit showing the development of photography in the late 20th century with an emphasis on major breakthroughs such as the Instamatic camera, the rise in popularity of the 35mm SLR, Polaroid instant photography, the development of colour photography and the rise in digital photography.
Interactive exhibits in the Wonderlab gallery explain the science behind photography, film and television. These exhibits include a thermal camera, a room where you can learn how ultraviolet light works and displays that explain how animation works, how we see different colours and how our hearing range changes as we age.
The Life Online gallery has exhibits that explore the cultural and social impact of the internet.
The BFI Mediatheque gives visitors access to the British Film Institute’s extensive collection of films and television programmes in the British Film Institute’s National Archive.
The Experience TV gallery has displays that chart the development of television and explore its cultural impact. It includes exhibits about the business of television, iconic television characters such as Wallace and Gromit, the Wombles and characters from Playschool. It also includes artefacts from television shows including one of Doctor Who’s Daleks.
The Animation Gallery explores animation with an emphasis on British animation. This gallery includes the only surviving film set from The Wrong Trousers.
The Games Lounge features exhibitions showcasing the history of video gaming from its origins in 1952 to the present day. This exhibit has a £2 admission fee but once inside you are free to play many of the classic arcade game consoles that are on display here.
Cinemas at the National Science and Media Museum
The museum complex also includes three cinemas including the UK’s first permanent IMAX cinema, the excellent Pictureville Cinema (which is one of only three cinemas in the world that is set up to show original three-strip 35mm Cinerama prints) and the Cubby Broccoli Cinema.
Festivals and temporary exhibitions at the National Science and Media Museum
In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Current and planned exhibitions include:
My Museum and Me
This exhibition (19 May–October 2021) highlights a curated selection of items from the museum’s collection as chosen by the Why Don’t We team.
Sonic: Adventures in Audio
The Sonic: Adventures in Audio exhibition (23 July–5 December 2021) demonstrates how scientists, musicians and engineers can manipulate sound waves and includes displays about synthesisers and sound engineering as well as an exhibit showing how noise cancelling headphones work. This exhibition is part of Sound Season, which is a series of exhibitions that demonstrate how sound fills out world.
Boom: Experiments in Sound
The Boom: Experiments in Sound exhibition (23 July–5 December 2021) shows how sound shapes the world around us and includes displays that illustrate the life of a sound wave. This exhibition is part of Sound Season, which is a series of exhibitions that demonstrate how sound fills out world.
The museum’s temporary exhibitions are complemented by a programme of film festivals that take place at the museum’s three cinemas.
Visiting the National Science and Media Museum
The National Science and Media Museum is located at the southern end of Bradford’s city centre. It is close to Centenary Square and the iconic Alhambra Theatre and it is only a five-minute walk from the Bradford Police Museum and both Bradford Interchange and Forster Square stations are a little over a 10-minute walk away.
Admission to the exhibition space is free of charge; however, there is a charge to enter the Games Lounge and there is also a charge to watch films in the cinemas.
The interactive exhibits in the Wonderlab gallery and the playable video game consoles in the Games Lounge mean that the museum is a good place to visit for families with children.
The museum complex is fully wheelchair accessible, although wheelchair spaces are limited inside the cinemas.
Free Wi-Fi wireless internet access is available throughout the museum.
The museum has its own cafe and there is also an area where you can eat your own food plus a bar for cinema customers. Its location in the city centre means that there are also plenty of other eating and drinking options nearby.
There is quite a lot to see here and it is easy to spend a few hours here.