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Manchester Science Festival 2020 announced as part of SMG's major public programme on climate change

Manchester Science Festival, produced by the Science and Industry Museum, will return from 23 October – 1 November 2020. It was announced today that the theme of this year's event is climate, and how we should respond to its challenges through three lenses: our cities; our natural world; and ourselves.

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was the catalyst for scientific innovation and unprecedented change worldwide. Now, with Greater Manchester's vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038, the city is primed to influence future progress.

The theme of Manchester Science Festival 2020 was announced as part of the Science Museum Group's major public programme focused on climate and solutions to the urgent challenges facing the world. The programme is in support of the 2020 Year of Climate Action which was launched by the Prime Minister at the Science Museum in London this morning. Guests included David Attenborough and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Manchester Science Festival will be a cornerstone of the Group's programme. From art commissions to immersive and participatory experiences, outdoor events to live debates, the Festival will inform, engage and ignite curiosity about climate change, the defining issue of the modern age. 2020's event will also mark the first of a new biennial format.

Manchester Science Festival will open ahead of COP26, the 26th United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow in November 2020, when world leaders and 30,000 delegates will convene to develop an international response to the climate emergency.

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum, said:

"I'm delighted that Manchester Science Festival is back for 2020. The Science and Industry Museum is home to ideas that changed the world and it continues to inspire the future of scientific exploration and technological progress through its exhibitions, activities and events. The Festival is a major part of this and will provide a compelling public programme focusing on our altering climate."

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group said:

"There is no more pressing issue facing the world, and the five museums in the Science Museum Group are uniquely placed to engage a huge audience around the science of climate change, and the technological challenges and solutions around the crucial energy and food transitions we need to achieve. Our visitors are the engaged citizens and scientists of now and tomorrow."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said:

"We are proud of our long tradition of scientific innovation in this city and Manchester Science Festival is one of the boldest, most creative and thought-provoking festivals in the country. What better way to explore the theme of climate than bring together artists, scientists, citizens, businesses and visitors to the city to play, talk and make the future together."

Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and natural historian, said: 

"The moment of climate crisis is with us and our planet needs us all to act now. The UN's 26th Climate Change Conference in Glasgow is a critically important opportunity for governments to act decisively—we know what has to be done to cut carbon emissions, and we can't afford to put off a decision again because each delay makes it so much harder to avert more damaging climate change. It is also important that we all do our bit.  That is why I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement of the UK Year of Climate Action and l hope it will galvanise real change. I also look forward to seeing how the Manchester Science Festival sparks discussion about how to protect our fragile planet."

For more information about the Festival and details of the programme as it is announced, visit


For more information, please contact Communications Manager Alex Urmston on 0161 606 0160 or at

Notes to editors


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.

From textiles to computers, the objects and documents on display in the museum tell stories of everyday life over the last 200 years, from light bulbs to locomotives.  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 site is on the site of the Liverpool Road Station terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing 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 (SMG), 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 5 million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.

The Science Museum Group and sustainability

SMG has been a leader in raising climate awareness through its public programme while the Group's approach to sustainability has transformed its working practices and collections care. Highlights from the past decade include:

  • Since 2011/12, SMG has cut energy usage by 25% and carbon emissions by 69%, despite increasing floor area by 24% as a result of mergers and Masterplan developments;

  • The National Collections Centre site at Wroughton hosts a solar farm business that generates almost four times the total amount of energy used by the whole of SMG;

  • The Atmosphere gallery exploring the science of climate change, which opened in 2010, has been seen by more than 5 million people;

  • In 2019, SMG announced fresh commitments to biodiversity including planting at least 1,000 trees a year on its own land throughout this decade;

  • In 2005, the Science Museum became the first national museum to install solar panels on its roof;

  • Climate change has been a recurrent theme in SMG's public programme, with exhibitions including: Unlocking Lovelock; The Rubbish Collection, an art installation made of waste; Luke Jerram's spectacular artwork Gaia, as part of the National Science and Media Museum's Hello Universe exhibition; and the Lovelock Art Commissons for Manchester Science Festival: The Sounds of Others: A Biophonic Line with artist Marcus Coates and Cape Farewell (2014); Evaporation with artist Tania Kovats and Cape Farewell (2015); and Cloud Crash with Nerc/Cape Farewell and artists HeHe (2016/17).

For more information about Sustainability and the Science Museum Group:

About the 2020 Year of Climate Action

The Government has launched a Year of Climate Action to inspire positive action and engagement on climate change across the UK in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

The Year of Climate Action is working across government, and with businesses, organisations, civil society groups, creative and cultural institutions and young people to encourage action to tackle climate change. This work will include building partnerships, organising events and activities that will have a positive impact on climate change.

This is a critical year for the future of our planet. We have an opportunity to make changes to stop the activities which are polluting our land, water and skies, impacting people's lives, and making parts of our planet uninhabitable.

By working together, we have an opportunity to build a cleaner, greener, brighter future for our children, grandchildren, wildlife and our planet.