Project What If
It all starts with a question...
Have you ever wished you could slow time down or wondered if there is such a thing as the soul?
Escape into a mysterious world of possibilities in our major new ground floor experience, Project What If.
Inspired by questions from the people of Bristol, this is a space where art and science collide.
22 May - 1 Sep
Included with a general admission ticket.
The question constellations
Come and play with 68 new exhibits and 25 art pieces. They're clustered around seven questions that explore very different themes:
Explore light, the secrets of colour and the science of happiness.
Come face to face with an early ancestor, chart our place in Earth's history, dig into unexpected stories.
Reflect on what makes you unique, explore the habitats of aliens, broadcast a message into space.
Peer inside the Tardis, become the hands on a human clock, discover how you measure something you can’t even see.
Be fooled by tricks of the light, take a close-up look at how we see, get ready to disappear.
Reflect on the nature of disease, health inequalities and how our experience of illness shapes our lives.
Get lost in moral puzzles, marvel at the beauty of our brains, have a chat with our resident robot.
Open City Lab
Our new ground floor is also home to Open City Lab, a collaborative working laboratory, where you can meet scientists, join them in their explorations and take part in research.
The Box gallery
Take a pause for reflection in ‘The COVID-19 Diaries’, an edited collection of personal stories from Bristol and beyond in our dedicated gallery space.
The John James Theatre of Curiosity
A place for questioning and discussion. Explore questions, discuss ideas and connect with others in one of the daily events here, and leave your own questions in our digital question space. Who knows what your question might inspire?
If you've visited us before, you'll notice that Project What If is a little different from our previous exhibitions. The experience is inspired by questions from real people and has been shaped by many voices.
As a result, Project What If explores the human side of science. As well as traditional science content, it includes individual stories and touches on subjects that you might find unusual in a science centre, such as religion, sexuality, illness and mental health.
We wanted to draw your attention to one of the exhibits which covers the sensitive topic of illness. At the back of the ground floor, you’ll find a large, lit photographic installation which explores the idea of illness and representation with photographic illustrations of people with self-defined illnesses.
In some cases, it may be useful to see this information in advance of your visit, so that you’re prepared for any conversations you may have during your visit with us.
The images are the work of artist Jack Powley. If you’d like to explore the images and the contributor’s stories further in your own way, you can find more information on Jack’s website. There are also further images of each of the people represented in the photos on the floor.
When you’re in the venue, you can chat to our Live Science Team about any of the content that you see. Please get in touch if you'd like further info.
Project What If is the first major science centre exhibition in the UK all about the curiosity of a city. It started with over 10,000 questions from the people of Bristol.
Read the full story here.
Project What If has been supported by a £3m grant awarded by the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. The support for the charity and new exhibition has been hugely successful in addition to this, with over £900,000 donated by other generous funders.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project.
Image credits: Lisa Whiting; Julian Welsh; Jack Powley.