Skip to content

By Rose Mockford on

The one where you find out about our new interactive engineering gallery: Wonderlab

Rose introduces Wonderlab, a spectacular gallery that will be part of our Vision 2025 overhaul.

At the National Railway Museum we are in the midst of developing an exciting new gallery that will be an awe-inspiring spectacle. Set to open Spring 2023, and part of NRM’s exciting Vision 2025 development, Wonderlab is a dynamic, dramatic, and multi-sensory gallery to help visitors think and act like engineers.

Interactive galleries have been an important part of Science Museum Group’s history, stemming back to the Children’s Gallery which opened in 1931 and Launchpad which launched in the 1986. Learning about science through a hands-on experience allows visitors to actively engage with STEM concepts. An interactive gallery is fun, exciting, and essential in captivating the scientific minds of the future, and these experiences aim to leave long-lasting memories with visitors young and old. Both the Science Museum and the National Science and Media Museum have their own Wonderlab galleries, opened in 2016 and 2017, and we are set to join them! The special ingredient in NRM’s Wonderlab is that we want to encourage visitors to take their first steps into the world of engineering.

From railways to rockets, bridges to buildings, engineering is everywhere, and the aim of NRM’s Wonderlab is to approach engineering as a way of thinking and acting rather than just a job. We want to highlight the sometimes-messy creativity of engineers and to change perceptions of engineering by encouraging all visitors to see the world differently.

Our gallery will be created in what is currently the Workshop. Wonderlab seeks to encapsulate the spirit of the space by inspiring visitors to make things work and make things work better when they play with our 20 interactive exhibits. From standing stationary amongst the most impressive locomotives in the world, Wonderlab takes you on a journey into the active world of engineering, focusing on the active and exciting concepts of Power, Motion and Control. These three concepts support all our content development and enable visitors to connect engineering to their everyday lives.

And where would we be without the influence of STEM professionals in our everyday lives? Through the development of Wonderlab we are engaging with the STEM industry in multiple ways; learning from the sustainable developments in the sector, getting specialist advice on specific scientific phenomena, and reflecting on what inspired people to enter the world of engineering. The enthusiasm and desire of STEM professionals to ignite the curiosity of future engineers is essential in our developing gallery. We have established Team Wonder- a group of STEM ambassadors and industry experts who have all come together to consider the past, present, and future of engineering as we continue to develop the gallery.

If you are interested in being involved in Team Wonder then please do contact to find out more. We welcome anyone with a keen interest in helping inform and shape the development of Wonderlab.

7 comments on “The one where you find out about our new interactive engineering gallery: Wonderlab

  1. Very funny! The way that it reads is almost as though the workshop that ‘Sir Nigel’ and others currently occupy – is to be turned into an ‘experience’. Haha. That’s not going to happen … tell me?

  2. Am absolutely appalled at the idea of losing this world-class working environment and substituting a play area to mimic the real thing. Nowhere else does this smack of such crass ‘Disneyfication’ as does this proposal. By all means, have some hands-on ‘experiential’ stuff for children and school-age people somewhere onsite, but for goodness sake don’t overlook the treasure that is this fully equipped and fully operational workshop that will probably never run short of actual work to be done. And that work can provide all the opportunities for learning about planning and problem-solving and logistical opportunities for STEM students. Words fail me!

  3. I have to agree with the above comments that the changes being made in the 2025 vision seem to be completely removing the museum from what it should be all about. Please don’t undersestimate the value of having a funtional workshop environment. It seems like the museum is moving towards a science / childrens themepark which would be a huge shame as it has always been the “National Railway Museum” and should remain so, I would hope that the new plans would increase the number of railway related exhibits, not turn it into a playground,

  4. I honestly can not see how a fake engineering zone is better than watching real locomotives being worked on. The engineers of the future become engaged by the senses – the sights, the smells and the sound of a real workshop not by some imagined theme park. Appalling

  5. Why take away the works anyway and what are you doing with the viewing balcony don’t take it away.
    But why take away the viewing balcony because everyone likes standing on the balcony looking at the trains coming in and out of York station.
    The workshop why have you taken it away so many engines have been maintained in that workshop since the museum opened in 1975 everyone looked at the engines being overhauled and maintained but you could have chose another place to put the new “wonderlab Bramall gallery” I can’t be honest here but I Havant been to the museum as much last year because the viewing balcony isn’t there and that the works has gone and it makes me and my family really sad and upset that you have taken that away. Not good enough.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *