Thinktank, Birmingham

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Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum
Eastside City Park - by Andy Mabbett - 20.JPG
The exterior in December 2013
Established 2001 (2001)
Location Millennium Point, Birmingham, England
Coordinates 52°28′58″N 1°53′10″W / 52.482908°N 1.886058°W / 52.482908; -1.886058Coordinates: 52°28′58″N 1°53′10″W / 52.482908°N 1.886058°W / 52.482908; -1.886058
Type Science and industry

Thinktank is a Science museum in Birmingham, England. Opened in 2001, it succeeded and has the collection from the City's former Museum of Science and Industry.[1] It is part of Birmingham Museums Trust and is located within the Millennium Point complex.


Thinktank has four floors of over 200 hands-on exhibits and artefacts. Each floor has a theme, in general going from the past, in The Past (Level 0), through The Balcony (Level 1) and The Present (Level 2), to the future, in The Future gallery (Level 3).[2]

The area adjacent to the building is designated Eastside City Park.


The decision to move the science museum was taken by Birmingham City Council in 1995,[3] given the opportunity presented by the Millennium Commission to build a new museum.[4] The old building was falling into a state of disrepair, and many of the artefacts were no longer in working order.

In April 2012, Thinktank became paart of Birmingham Museums Trust.[5]


The Future[edit]

Robothespian on display in The Future gallery

This gallery contains the Futures exhibition, dealing with future technology, innovation and space travel. The majority of the displays are screens, with a trackball to choose to play a video on a certain topic.[6]

Topics include:

There is also a programmable drumming robot.[7]

The Future of Space section of the Futures gallery has various displays, including the International Space Station simulation, and the Mars Rover.[8]


Inside Thinktank Planetarium

Thinktank Planetarium is the UK's first purpose-built digital planetarium,[9] opened on 17 December 2005[10] as part of Thinktank, Birmingham.[11] The domed theatre is 10m in diameter with 70 seats, and the main operating system is Digistar 3. Six 1400x1050 DLP projectors, each connected to a PC, work together to produce a hemispherical image 3200x3200 pixels in size.

Aside from projecting stars, digital planetariums can fill the dome with 360˚ of sound and video, and are therefore also known as immersive cinemas or 'fulldome' theatres. Shows include those about stars and planets, but also a simulation of travel through the human body, diving under the ocean, shrinking to the size of an atom[12] and art films.

The Present[edit]

This gallery deals with current technology and scientific understanding, and how everyday life has been affected by scientific ideas and advances.

There are five galleries on this floor:

Things About Me[edit]

Your beating heart on display in The Things about Me

This exhibition is aimed at younger children, helping them to understand how their own body works, and how to keep it working. It is a bright and noisy gallery. There are small characters called TAMs, who act as guides throughout the museum.


A Triceratops skull on display at the museum

This is a living history gallery, with taxidermiedd animals, skeletons, skulls and fossils.

The Street[edit]

The Street - the first area near the main entrance to the museum

The Street is designed to show visitors how science affects their everyday life, and how objects they see around them work.

Kids' City[edit]

Kids' City

Kids' City is an exhibition that has been designed for small children, aged 7 and younger. It is more of a play area than a traditional exhibition, but also contains a garden with water feature, a health centre, café, and garage.

Medicine Matters[edit]

The language of genes - seen in the Medicine Matters section of the museum

Medicine Matters is an exhibition that contains displays of current medical practices, and the moral dilemmas that occur, while other exhibits cover DNA, epilepsy, genetics, vaccination and personal health.

The Balcony[edit]

We Made It[edit]

We made it - nut's bolts, gadgets and gizmos

We made it features more than 20 interactive exhibits that show just how and why Birmingham became known as ‘the workshop of the world’. Visitors are taken on a journey from raw materials to finished product, demonstrating how everyday goods are produced.

The Past[edit]

Move It[edit]

LMS Princess Coronation Class 46235 City of Birmingham as it used to be displayed in the old Museum of Science and Industry

Concentrating on Birmingham's transport history, Move It contains all of the vehicles on display in Thinktank, including the LMS Princess Coronation Class steam locomotive, 46235 City of Birmingham, Railton Mobil Special, Supermarine Spitfire Mark IXc ML427, and Hawker HurricaneMark IV number KX829 hanging from the ceiling, and Birmingham Corporation Tramways tram 395.[citation needed]

In the gallery are a pair of robots that display how a car is spot-welded during construction.[citation needed]

Power Up[edit]

Power Up - engines seen below from the balcony

This exhibition displays steam engines, the main one being the Smethwick Engine, the oldest working steam engine in the world, built by Boulton and Watt. There is a display further on in the exhibition explaining the history of Boulton and Watt, and how they developed their engines. Other steam engines in this exhibition are those that have been used for pumping sewage, generating electricity, agricultural work and teaching.

There is also a display explaining how power is currently generated by a steam turbine.

Science Garden[edit]

Thinktank Science Garden seen a few days after it opened in December 2012

The Science Garden is an interactive outdoor space with lots of exhibits to climb on, pull, push and explore.


  1. ^ Jones, David (24 May 2001). "Now it's full steam ahead; Birmingham's industrial past, present and hi-tech future will be celebrated when Thinktank opens in September at Millennium Point". Birmingham Evening Mail. Retrieved 20 February 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Thinktank What's On Leaflet, 2013
  3. ^ "Archive of our city's great past". Birmingham Evening Mail . 24 May 2001. Retrieved 20 February 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Future Looks Bright for Millennium Museum". The Birmingham Post. 4 February 1998. Retrieved 20 February 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "West Mids accountants appointed by largest independent museums trust". Commercial News Media. 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 
  6. ^ "Paul Maguire • biography • projects • thoughts • information". Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "News : Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2014 - Birmingham Event". Harvey Nash UK. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Bentley, David (2014-11-19). "Teen Takeover Day at Birmingham Thinktank". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Science and Technology Committee (22 October 2007). The funding of science and discovery centres: eleventh report of session 2006-07, Vol. 2: Oral and written evidence. The Stationery Office. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-0-215-03662-9. 
  11. ^ "Remember to take part in the WW1 memorial event Lights Out today" The Mirror
  12. ^ "Live link up with British astronaut at Birmingham science event". Birmingham Mail. Sep 05, 2014 By Neil Elkes

External links[edit]