Jodrell Bank expands Discovery Centre

Jodrell Bank, home of the UK’s Lovell radio telescope, has upgraded and expanded its Discovery Centre. Electrosonic installed the AV and interactive elements of the exhibits under subcontract to fit-out contractors, The Moule Partnership.

The Discovery Centre is part of the University of Manchester and works alongside the Observatory to educate visitors about the research and the live science that is carried out by the Jodrell Bank team. The new £3 million (€3.4 million) project includes a new entrance building, the Planet Pavilion, and a new Space Pavilion for exhibitions and events.

Teresa Anderson, director of the Discovery Centre said: “We are delighted with the exhibition. It’s a huge improvement on the last centre and the visitors are really enjoying the interactive elements. The exhibition enables us to inspire visitors in an exciting and fun way”.

Housed in the Planet Pavilion is the introductory exhibit, the “Live Science Wall”, designed to help explain the current work of the telescope to visitors. A 42” LCD panel shows ‘live’ images from the telescope, whilst a 22” LCD panel displays a looping video sequence.

The Space Pavilion is a combination of classroom, events space and exhibition. The exhibition features a line of exhibits supported by a ‘Film Pod’ that shows short films about the history of Jodrell Bank on a continuous basis. The ‘People of Jodrell Bank’ exhibit allows visitors, using a 21-inch touch screen, to choose a person working at the Discovery Centre and ask them questions about the work they are doing. The person concerned appears on a 42-inch LCD panel.

A second exhibit demonstrates the importance of non-visible radiation using an infra-red camera connected to a 42-inch LCD panel. Visitors can interpose different materials between themselves and the camera to show their absorption effect. Other interactive exhibits include touch screen displays covering topics such as the Big Bang, pulsars and black holes.

The Infinity Corridor, a mysterious black space animated by fibre optics, presents a space related “soundscape” consisting of sounds from space and recordings from the moon-landing era. At the end of the corridor is an exhibition space devoted to the solar system where two 21-inch touch screens placed at the ‘Solar System Table’ allow visitors to learn more about the sun and its planets.

The AV technology installed by Electrosonic included Panphonic electrostatic directional loudspeakers, Roku Brightsign digital video players and Ideal MP3 solid state audio players. The client specified that only computers with a clock range between 1.8 and 2.2 GHz could be used. Computers with other clock frequencies, cell phones and laptop computers are not allowed on site because of the possibility of interference.

Exhibition design was jointly carried out by Thomas Matthews Ltd and Norton Allison Ltd, with Horseshoeshape as media producers.

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