The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland is a marvel of scientific engineering. After its discovery of the Higgs Boson the time is ripe for an exhibition all about it – and the Science Museum has obliged.
The exhibition kicks off with a ten minute video filled with interesting facts such as, at 27km in circumference the main synchotron is roughly as long as the Circle line, but it quickly descends into trying to convince the audience of how emotional the research is. It also comes across as patronising at times and tries too hard to be funny yet never succeeds, except for a brief cameo by Brian Cox.
After the video completes the exhibition opens up and, credit to the curators of this exhibition, they haven’t made it fact heavy or tried to drown visitors in particle physics speak. There are interesting artefacts including sections of the tube that protons must travel down at the speed of light, mocked up reports, video presentations and scrawled equations.
By breaking it all up into snippets rather than blocks of text, the exhibition remains interactive but it never feels like it has a cohesive narrative. It also does a great job of explaining what the Large Hadron Collider is but not what it does nor the gravity of what it has achieved.
The exhibition struggles to decide whether it wants to focus on the attributes or the personnel of CERN thus never fully achieving either. The design and look of the layout is brilliant but the central video presentation looks very high tech, yet it’s unclear what it achieves. This contrast of good and bad elements continues throughout the show and is what prevents it from feeling like a complete exhibition.
Collider is on at Science Museum until 5 June 2014. Tickets are £10 for adults, £7 concessions.