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Science Museum Group

Hunt for the Vaccine

“Never before has a vaccine been awaited with such anxiety and expectation across the world as the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Over the last year, the Science Museum Group has undertaken fascinating and important work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shaken the world and forced us to change our behaviours dramatically.

From the COVID-19 collecting project which acquired the historic vials used to administer the first mass COVID-19 vaccinations worldwide (donated by the NHS), to hosting an NHS vaccination centre within the Science Museum, and public engagement ranging from publishing a popular blog series charting the pandemic since March 2020, to events such as the discussion about vaccine hesitancy featuring Dr Anthony Fauci and the UK’s COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Science Museum Group has been at the forefront of the latest developments in the pandemic, and the worldwide response.

Aim

The Science Museum Group is now planning a new project to explore the history and science behind the massive vaccination programme which, in a first for the Group, will open in three international venues simultaneously. Hunt for the Vaccine (working title) is an innovative, collaborative international project that will tell the story of the global effort to find new ways to develop vaccines at pandemic speed.

The Science Museum Group, in collaboration with Wellcome, have partnered with the National Council of Science Museums India, and the Guangdong Science Center and its network in China to highlight this global issue through a series of exhibitions and events, to take place simultaneously in the UK, India and China.

The project is fully funded by Wellcome and will build on our existing relationships with them and our international partners, following the recent success of international touring exhibition Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives.

Outcomes

The exhibitions

The exhibition will help people understand what is underpinning the current work to hunt for vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases, with engaging and informative content relevant to local audiences.

As well as unpacking the background medical science and how innovative research was adapted to this new challenge, the exhibition will explore the sheer logistical challenges behind this massive programme.

The content of the exhibition will be developed collaboratively with all regions and will be led by Keeper of Medicine, Natasha McEnroe, who is leading the COVID-19 Collecting Project and also led the team behind the development of the Science Museum’s critically-acclaimed Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries. Natasha will work closely with Curator of Community Health, Stewart Emmens, who is co-leading the COVID-19 Collecting Project and will focus on developing the content for the UK exhibition.

The exhibitions are due to open in all regions in November 2022, followed by a national tour to multiple venues until late 2025.

The Science Museum in London will be the first UK venue to host the exhibition, followed by the Science & Industry Museum in Manchester in 2023. The exhibition will then tour to a final venue within the UK in 2024.

In China, the Guangdong Science Center will be the first venue to host the exhibition, and in India, the first venue will be in their capital Delhi. Both China & India are anticipating a tour to four further venues nationally.

Project partners

Wellcome

Guangdong Science Centre

National Council of Science Museums India

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