On 16 June, the National Science and Media Museum commemorates its 40th birthday with a heartwarming short film capturing treasured moments from the past and envisioning the future. The film features reminiscences shared by visitors, friends, staff, and community members, highlighting their favourite experiences, cherished objects, and the museum’s significance in their lives. From childhood visits to beloved exhibits, the film emphasises the museum’s profound impact over the last four decades.

Initially opened as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television on 16 June 1983, the museum has attracted millions of visitors, chronicling the evolution of sound and image technologies and their influence on society. From the world’s first photograph to Louis Le Prince’s groundbreaking film work, as well as the cameras responsible for capturing the iconic Cottingley Fairies photographs and the extensive Daily Herald Archive, once the world’s bestselling newspaper, the museum showcases numerous pioneering achievements.

The museum also boasts three cinema screens, including Europe’s inaugural IMAX theatre, which opened in 1983. The inaugural film shown at the IMAX was To Fly!, a documentary recounting the history of flight, exclusively screened for 15 months.

Throughout its history, the museum has witnessed unforgettable moments, such as the iconic magic carpet, Pierce Brosnan’s helicopter arrival for the reopening after a 1999 renovation, the launch of the first-ever live broadcasting studio within a museum, and Tim Peake’s spacecraft proudly displayed in the foyer.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, the Director of the National Science and Media Museum, expressed enthusiasm for the momentous occasion, stating, “As the museum celebrates its 40th birthday this year in June, it holds particular significance as we embark on an exciting new chapter. Our new film not only commemorates the past four decades but also envisions a promising future. The upcoming inauguration of our Sound and Vision galleries will be truly transformative, inspiring the next generation of visitors from Bradford and beyond.”

While the museum is currently closed to the public until summer 2024, undergoing a £6m once-in-a-generation transformation, it has received support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and generous contributions from National Lottery players. The ambitious Sound and Vision project will introduce two new galleries, an additional passenger lift, and an enhanced foyer space. In addition to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, funding for the project is also provided by the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2022-24, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, and the Science Museum Group.

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, conveyed well wishes to the National Science and Media Museum on their 40th birthday. The organisation has invested over £14m of National Lottery Funding to support remarkable heritage initiatives, creating enduring memories for visitors worldwide. Featherstone expressed excitement about supporting the museum’s journey beyond this milestone, eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the inspiring Sound and Vision galleries.

To learn more about the museum’s 40th birthday celebration and to watch the new film, please visit: https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/happy-birthday-life-begins-at-40/

To send a birthday gift to the museum, consider making a donation here: https://bit.ly/3WV8M4v