Among the countless rockets, steam engines and mothballed telecoms, it could be argued that the environmental sciences have received short shrift at the Science Museum. That was always going to change after the appointment of climate scientist Chris Rapley as Director three years ago. Voila the new Atmosphere gallery, a welcome exposition of this most important of disciplines, delivered with gusto.
The gallery is perched in a crow's nest, in the tropospheric heights of the Wellcome Wing. Bubble-like consoles are bathed in projections, and further illuminated by an eerie purple back light. Think Teletubbies meets Tron. At ceiling level, a fettuccine mesh serves as an embodiment of the atmosphere, with sparkling lights representing particulates and pollution. There's a surprising warmth and beauty to this techno-excess that immediately draws you in.
Once inside, much of the gallery is given over to multi-touch, multi-player games consoles, ideal for small school parties, who seem to be the intended demographic. The games are universally fun, if sometimes a little baffling (select environmental policy ideas you'd like to implement, then use a digital catapult to fire them at buildings and cars...is this a Big Society licensing of Angry Birds?). Our favourite console encouraged users to take control of London's flood defences - apportioning budget to protect six different parts of town. Sorry, Rotherhithe. It was you or Greenwich.