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Free things to do this January at the Science and Industry Museum

January may be associated with cold, dark days and lack of cash post-Christmas, but with all the free things to see and do exploring ideas that change the world at the Science and Industry Museum, it definitely doesn’t have to be boring.

From wondrous mechanical creations springing to life and experiencing the thundering textile machines in action, to lifting a Mini and discovering how far we have come in revolutionising cancer care, there’s a perfect day out for everyone. 

Fans of the 1965 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can discover the charming final work of one of Britain’s best loved artists and sculptors, Rowland Emett, the creator of the inventions of ‘Caractacus Potts’ in the classic film.  

On display in Manchester for the first time in the Science and Industry Museum’s Textiles Gallery, the unique moving sculpture named A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley was constructed in 1984 and saved for the UK after being purchased for the Science Museum Group Collection with support from Art Fund, the Science Museum Foundation, the Friends of the National Railway Museum and private donors.  

Until April, visitors can see two scenes from the fantastical work of art telling the story of a journey aboard the imaginary ‘Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway,’ based on one of his cartoons. 

The two scenes—Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway featuring the ‘Wild Goose’ locomotive, and Oyster Creek—come to life twice a day. Treating visitors to the whirring of cogs and characters toasting teacakes and diving, while also revealing what this whimsical sculpture has in common with the museum’s thundering textiles machinery. 

Those interested in cutting-edge medicine can uncover the past, present and future of how cancer is prevented, detected and treated at the world-first free exhibition, Cancer Revolution: Science, innovation and hope

Through seldom and never-before seen objects and stories, cutting edge treatment and research, reflection, new artist commissions and installations, film, photography, interactive exhibits and a breadth of personal stories, the exhibition presents the stories of people affected by cancer, together with those who study and treat it.  

From busting myths about the causes of cancer, to revealing it even affected dinosaurs millions of years ago, and how everything from virtual reality to 3D printing, early detection technologies and immunotherapies are advancing cancer care today—it shows just how far we have come. 

There are also amazing stories to discover in the rest of the galleries including Experiment, a favourite among family visitors, where science is brought to life through a series of interactive exhibits from lifting a Mini to creating a hurricane. 

Journey through Manchester’s rich legacy of industrial innovations, scientific discoveries and ideas that changed the world in the Revolution Manchester gallery, including finding out just how much computers have advanced since 1948 by watching volunteers run ‘Baby’, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine—the very first computer to store and run a program. 

Pay a visit to the Textiles Gallery to discover why Manchester is a city built on cotton. Meet the machines, people and stories that made Manchester the first industrial city and find out how ‘Cottonopolis’ changed the world we all live in today. Join the volunteers for daily Weavers Wanted demonstrations transporting visitors back in time to the working mills of 150 years ago experiencing the thundering sounds of the machinery and finding out what life was like for thousands of mill workers. Learning all the tricks of the trade as we turn cotton into the thread that made everything from napkins to knickers, and finding out which job you’d have and what life was like for the workers that made Manchester. 

Revolution is currently in progress to restore and transform the Science and Industry Museum, meaning that some areas remain closed to the public. Through a multi-million pound restoration programme, we’re revealing inspirational new spaces and perspectives for all to enjoy, play and learn in. This includes carrying out crucial work to restore and tell the stories of the historic listed Power Hall, 1830 Station and Warehouse; building awe-inspiring new indoor and outdoor experiences for families; bringing to life the story of the revolutionary railway; using our collections to create new galleries revealing the wonder of how Manchester’s past and present continues to shape the modern world; and decarbonising our site. 

For more information about what is on at the museum and to book tickets in advance, visit the museum’s website ( or call 033 0058 0058.  

Activity times

A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley 

Wednesday – Sunday, 11.30 and 14.00, suitable for all ages. 

Meet Baby 

Wednesday – Friday, 10.30– 13.30, recommended for ages 12 and over. 

Weavers Wanted 

Wednesday to Friday 11.00, 12.00, 13.30, 14.30, recommended for ages 5 and over.



For more information, interviews and images please contact Rachel Conway at or on 0161 696 7785. 


The Science and Industry Museum tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world. The museum's mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.  

The Science and Industry Museum is on the site of Liverpool Road Station, which was the Manchester terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world's first railway goods warehouse. In total, there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site. 

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.