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Marvellous machines and the charm of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang inventor at the Science and Industry Museum this winter holiday

From wondrous mechanical creations springing to life and turning your body into a machine, to toy making and lifting a Mini, there’s a perfect day out to be had at the Science and Industry Museum this winter.

This festive period, discover the charming final work of Rowland Emett, the creator of the inventions of Caractacus Potts in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and enjoy playful machines of all shapes and sizes through hands on activities and shows, alongside a whole host of family favourites.  

From 24 November to April 2022, the last work by one of Britain’s best loved artists and sculptors, Rowland Emett, will be on display in Manchester for the first time in the Science and Industry Museum’s Textiles Gallery

Constructed in 1984, the unique moving sculpture named A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley was 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.  

Visitors will be able to 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—will come to life twice a day at 11.30 and 14.00. Visitors will be treated to cogs whirring and characters toasting teacakes and catching butterflies, and can also discover what this whimsical sculpture has in common with the museum’s thundering textiles machinery. 

Born in London in 1906, Emett initially found fame producing cartoons for Punch magazine before creating a series of intricate mechanical sculptures based on his imaginative creations. As well as numerous artworks and cartoons, he is well known for the inventions of Caractacus Potts in the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, including the flying car itself and the Humbug-Major Sweet Machine. 

A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley is one of Rowland Emett’s largest pieces and was originally commissioned for a shopping centre before being exhibited at Spitalfields Market in London. In 1999, while being stored, it was stolen for scrap metal but later recovered and refurbished.  

If that wasn’t enough, from 18 December to 4 January other wondrous winter activities will be bringing the magic of machinery to life… 

Every day, discover the surprising science behind your favourite machines at Science Stops throughout the museum with our Explainer team’s very own inventions. 

At 10.45, 13.15 and 14.45 each day, under 7s can join us for Mini Movers as we roll, clank, whirr and clack our way round the Textiles Gallery, exploring the machines around us through imitation, invention and imagination.

Meanwhile, visitors of all ages can join the museum’s team of Explainers in the Textiles Gallery to create their own imaginative toy and make a simple wind-up toy from recyclable materials to waddle and wobble its way home with you. 

There are also amazing stories to discover in the rest of the galleries including the Experiment Gallery, 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. 

For older families there are two unmissable major exhibitions dedicated to medicine and music.  

Discover the past, present and future of how cancer is prevented, detected and treated at the brand-new headline exhibition Cancer Revolution: Science, innovation and hope. Created with support from expert partner Cancer Research UK, it is the first major object-rich exhibition to explore the revolution in science transforming cancer care. Suitable for children aged 8 and older, free tickets are available to book via the museum’s website. 

It’s the last chance to immerse yourself in the history of the iconic Manchester music label Factory Records in the Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records exhibition before it closes on 4 January. The exhibition unearths the story of the company’s formative years from 1978 to 1982, and how their innovative work in music, technology and design gave Manchester an authentic voice and distinctive identity. Suitable for children aged 12 and older, visitors can check the museum website for ticket availability and booking. 

The Science and Industry Museum is currently going through a multi-million pound restoration programme, meaning some areas including the Power Hall remain closed to the public. However, there’s still plenty for families to do, see and enjoy during the holiday period.  

Tickets for the Winter activities are available now and can be booked in advance through the museum’s website (www.scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk) or by calling 033 0058 0058.  

Other activities

Other activities available at the Science and Industry Museum include: 

The Revolution Manchester Show (Ages 5 and older) 

Daily shows at 10.15, 11.15, 13.00 and 14.15. 

Join our expert Explainers for an action-packed show that tells the story of how science met industry right here in Manchester, building our world and shaping our lives today. 

Meet Baby demonstration (Ages 12 and older) 

Wednesday – Friday at 10.30–13.30. 

The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, nicknamed ‘Baby’, was the first computer to store and run a program. Watch volunteers run our replica Baby and see how far computing has come since 1948. 

-ENDS- 

NOTES TO EDITORS

For more information, interviews and images please contact Rachel Conway at rachel.conway@scienceandindustrymuseum.org.uk or on 0161 696 7785. 

ABOUT THE SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY MUSEUM

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. 

ABOUT THE SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS GALLERY

The £5 million, 725-metre-square Special Exhibitions Gallery is the first project to be completed in the Science and Industry Museum’s multi-million-pound restoration plan, which will conserve and further open up its globally significant buildings and bring to life the story of the site and past, present and future ideas that change the world.

It opens up public access as a gallery space to this part of the much-loved museum for the first time, and will originate and host some of the world’s best science exhibitions and experiences in the North.

The Special Exhibitions Gallery is being generously funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Wellcome and Garfield Weston Foundation, with further support from the Kirby Laing Foundation and The Zochonis Charitable Trust.

About Art Fund 

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. In response to COVID-19 Art Fund made £3.6 million in urgent funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate needs and reimagine future ways of working. A further £2 million has been made available in 2021 for Reimagine projects. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 131,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. The winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 is Firstsite in Colchester.

Part of the Science Museum Group