From a robot invasion to a giant spider’s web and a library of fake news, MSF is back with over 100 events this October
Manchester Science Festival began back in 2007, also the year of the first iPhone and the launch of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Now, smartphones are omnipresent and space tourism is anticipated to take off next year, if Sir Richard Branson has his way with Virgin Galactic. A lot can happen in a decade of science.
All of which means the eleven-day event (now in its eleventh year) has had to adapt quickly, hosting everything from fracking debates to sleep labs and adult ball pools over the years. Produced by Manchester's Museum of Science & Industry - in collaboration with a host of citywide partners - MSF is now England’s largest science festival, renowned for its boldness and creativity (it doesn’t hurt that Manchester is such a pioneering city; responsible for inventions including the computer, graphene and the first true railway - not much then).
Current as ever, this year’s programme spans a Trump-esque library of ‘fake news’ to augmented reality and a morning rave; with plenty for adults, children and families alike. Headlining proceedings is Robots - a major exhibition charting humanity’s 500-year quest to recreate ourselves in mechanic form - and Tape, a giant spider’s human-sized web made of sticky tape.
With over 100 events to choose from, we recommend a good gander at the website. Before you do that though, here’s a brief summary to help you get acquainted…
Never mind Doctor Who, you don’t have to time travel or planet hop to encounter bionic beings this year. This year’s MSF headliner will be Robots; an exhibition charting humanity’s 500-year quest to recreate ourselves in mechanic form, spanning a dancing wine goblet to a creepy animatronic baby and a news-reading android from Japan. More info here.
Other Robots events include a Robots Late as part of Science after Dark, LEGO robotics as part of Make, Do and Hack, RoboCop: 30th Anniversary Screening as part of Science on Screen and a discussion on artificial intelligence as part of the Conversations strand.
Ever fancied climbing around in a giant spider web? Or course you have. This ambitious installation by award-winning artists Numen/For Use will transform the 1830 Warehouse at the Museum of Science and Industry into a giant lattice of sticky tape: visitors can crawl through a translucent ‘stretched biomorphic skin’ strung above the ground, along winding networks of cocooning passageways. Inspired by the incredible engineering properties of spider silk, you’ll get an arachnid’s-eye view of the webbed world according to our eight-legged friends (or foes, depending on your perspective).
Other Art meets Science events span Clod Ensemble’s Under Glass - a series of human specimens within a collection of giant glass jars - to the Women of Science exhibition and Alexander Whitley’s breath-taking performance 8 Minutes.
A thrilling blend of theatre, theme park fun and the latest palaeontological knowledge, Dinosaurs in the Wild is transforming EventCity into a cutting edge time machine from 7 October to 2 January: transporting visitors back 67 million years to the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Visitors can encounter these awe-inspiring creatures as never before, with cutting-edge audio-visual effects and dramatic storytelling, as they navigate the terrain with an expert tour guide - and there’s no chance of being swallowed up by a peckish T.rex.
Great for families, the popular Pi: Platform for Investigation returns this year with daily hands-on activities at the Museum of Science & Industry: from battling killer fungi to hunting for meteorites and attempting bone jigsaws.
Tomorrow’s World was the show that introduced the nation to mobile phones and laser eye surgery - now it’s returned as a new live and digital interactive vision of the future. With the help of special guest experts, audiences at the Museum of Science & Industry and around the world online (via bbc.co.uk/tomorrowsworld and Facebook Live), MSF will be asking – how will robots impact our lives and shape our future?
Manchester Science Festival runs from 19-29 October citywide