Centre for Life

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Centre for Life
Centre for Life
Established 2000 (2000)
Location Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, NE1 4EP.
Coordinates 54°58′03″N 1°37′14″W / 54.967500°N 1.620556°W / 54.967500; -1.620556
Type Science museum
Visitors 225,000 visitors per year (as of 2010)[1]
Public transit access Railway, Bus, Metro
Nearest car park Times Square Car Park
Website www.life.org.uk

The International Centre for Life is a pioneering science village based in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne where scientists, clinicians, educationalists and business people work to promote the advancement of the life sciences. The ICFL Trust is a registered charity, governed by a board of trustees, which receives no public funding.

The Life Science Centre is a visitor attraction at the International Centre for Life which houses a number of temporary and permanent exhibitions, a Science Theatre, a planetarium and a 4D Motion Ride, as well as presenting a programme of science-themed special events for children and adults. The Life Science Centre also has an educational programme providing science workshops to schools and other groups.


The Centre was opened by The Queen in 2000. Life's patron is Dr James Watson, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. The £90 million site was designed by Sir Terry Farrell. Previously it had been a Roman settlement, a hospital and a livestock market. The project transformed a run-down area of inner city Newcastle which now includes a hotel, offices, housing and a multi-storey car park.

Almost 600 people from 35 countries work at Life. Partners in the Centre for Life include Newcastle University; the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI); the NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre and the NHS Northern Genetics Service.

The Centre for Life complex encloses Times Square, where several entertainment venues and bars are found, as well as space for outdoor events. Times Square is located close to Newcastle Central railway station.


The northern entrance to the Centre for Life and Times Square.

The variety of events taking place at Centre for Life and Times Square attract many tourists as well as local people. In the winter months, Times Square is host to an open-air ice rink and during major sporting events such as The Football World Cup a big screen is installed to display televised matches. The square is often used for promotional purposes by various companies and corporations, for example the Qashqai Urban Challenge in 2007[2] and the BBC Blast! tour.[3] Times Square accommodates the marquee for the cabaret show The Ladyboys of Bangkok every September.[4]

In March 2009 it was the main venue for the UK's first Maker Faire,[5] run as part of the Newcastle ScienceFest. The 2010 Newcastle Maker Faire was held at the Centre for Life and the nearby Discovery Museum. Maker Faire UK returned to the Centre for Life in 2013, at which over 300 hackers, crafters, coders, DIYers and inventors presented their projects alongside installations and drop-in workshops.


The Science Centre's permanent exhibitions focuses on different aspects of scientific process and discovery. The Curiosity Zone is a 100% hands-on exhibition which encourages creativity and experimentation, inviting visitors to play with the exhibits, collaborating and communicating to make discoveries and creations. The Human Life exhibition explores the origins of human life and our adaptation to extreme environments, as well as some of the challenges humanity may face in the future. Every summer a new exhibition is hosted or launched, often a major touring exhibition such as Age of the Dinosaur in 2013, from the Natural History Museum. During the winter months, smaller scale exhibitions are hosted, either on loan from other museums or created in-house.

As well as the exhibitions, The Science Centre contains shows throughout the year. The Science Theatre hosts live, interactive and humorous science demonstrations linked to the main exhibition, and the planetarium - the largest in the North - utilising its 360° domed ceiling and immersive projections to present a range of shows and films from traditional astronomy demonstrations to specially created animated films on a range of science-inspired subjects.

Science Explainers[edit]

The science explainers are a team of science graduates working in the Life Science Centre who present the shows in the Science Theatre, host workshops, perform live science demonstrations around the Centre, and who are on-hand to explain exhibitions and answer your science questions.

Educational aims[edit]

Learning programmes are offered to schools, aiming to raise standards in science education for young people and reach up to 40,000 school children annually.

Workshops aimed at specific levels from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4 are offered to tie in with various aspects of the national curriculum, while the Centre also teaches the practical component of an MSc in Genetics at the Institute of Human Genetics. School groups who visit the Centre for a lab or workshop are also able to enter the exhibition at a discounted rate.

As well as workshops on-site, the Centre for Life also operates an Outreach Programme. Scientists from the Centre visit schools who are unable to organise a trip to the Centre or do not otherwise have access to laboratories or science equipment, sometimes in impoverished or extremely rural areas.

A variety of educational activities are also open to the public. There is a monthly "Science Club" for children aged 8–14, and a lecture series aimed at adults.[6]

Medical research[edit]

Newcastle Fertility Centre was established in 1991 at the RVI, later moving to the Centre for Life and officially opened by Professor Lord Robert Winston on 22 February 2000. As well as treating infertile couples, it carries out research and development into new fertility treatments.[7]

Scientists based at The Centre for Life are the first people in Europe - and only the second in the world - to get a license for stem cell research on human embryos. The license will allow work on new treatments for conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.[8]


  1. ^ "Centres of Attention: Centre for Life". Wellcome Trust. 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  2. ^ "Qashqai Urban Challenge". BIKEmagic Events. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  3. ^ "Blast On Tour - Newcastle". BBC. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  4. ^ "The Lady Boys of Bangkok Mile High Tour Sabai Pavilion Times Square Newcastle". The Northern Echo. 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
  5. ^ "2009 Maker Faire UK". O'Reilly Media. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  6. ^ "Lectures". Centre for Life. Retrieved 2009-03-29. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life". Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  8. ^ "Green light for stem cell research". Newcastle University. 2004-08-12. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 

External links[edit]