At a time when both the BBC and Channel 4 appear to be under substantial political scrutiny, with a clamour to defund or at best reduce the funding of the former and privatise the latter, a new major exhibition at The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford this summer couldn’t be better timed. Switched On is part of Broadcast 100, a bumper year of exhibitions, special displays, events, and digital content across the Science Museum Group to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the BBC and the 40th anniversary of Channel 4.
An interactive, hands-on journey through broadcasting history
Opening on 23 July, the exhibition, sponsored by the People’s Postcode Lottery and supported by the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), will take visitors on a journey from the first radio microphones to the invention of colour television and the rise of on-demand video and streaming services. The exhibition will examine the industry through 14 pioneers linked with broadcasting innovations who have forced the industry to adapt, improve and make room for more voices. Visitors will learn about influential trailblazers like David Attenborough, who led the introduction of colour on BBC2, or Delia Derbyshire, who created the Doctor Who theme tune in 1963, marking the first television tune made purely from electronic sound.
Visitors will also be able to experience first-hand the last century of broadcasting innovations through six interactives including a live camera feed that will show the evolution of television displays over time.
To celebrate the exhibition and the start of the summer holidays, a special family day will be taking place at the museum on 30 July. The family event will mark major broadcasting milestones with family friendly activities including learning about broadcasting pioneer David Attenborough through interactive storytelling, along with hands-on opportunities to try out being a camera operator or broadcasting a radio programme.
A spotlight on trailblazers
Lewis Pollard, Curator of Television and Broadcast at the National Science and Media Museum commented:
“We’re incredibly excited to be taking part in the celebrations of the BBC’s centenary and shining a spotlight on the significant pioneers who have influenced and shaped the industry, with our new exhibition Switched On.
“Our museum tells the stories of sound and image technologies and their impact on our lives, and many of our objects would not be possible without the achievements of broadcasters like the BBC and the trailblazers who have continued to push the boundaries over the last 100 years.”
The National Science and Media Museum
The National Science and Media Museum opened in 1983 and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. It draws on more than three million objects from its national collection to explore the science and culture of image and sound technologies, and their impact on our lives.
The museum creates special exhibitions, interactive galleries and activities for families and adults, and is home to three cinemas, including Europe’s first IMAX cinema screen and the world’s only remaining public Cinerama screen. Entry to the museum is free.