by Claire Douglass, BOM Visitor Experience Assistant

Hello, we’re back in the BOM building with our freshest exhibition, Atmospheric Encounters being installed as I type.

The gallery and Café may have been closed but what did we get up to during our enforced hibernation?

If you caught an earlier announcement you may be aware of our involvement in designing and developing the baton for the Commonwealth games. The baton will be collecting data for air quality monitoring and research, so our Digital Producers Ben and Catherine have been putting together the tech to meet the task.

Our engagement producer Chloe has also welcomed a new member of staff; (BOM Fellow Alumni) Laurie Ramsell and between them, they’re putting together an ambitious programme of engagement to accompany our Summer exhibition; Atmospheric Encounters. We were lucky enough to bring in a small group of girls to work with Biochemist (& BOM Fellow alumni) Melissa Grant and Birmingham’s very own drone enthusiasts Tiny Whoopers. They flew petri dishes around BOM to collect microbes in the atmosphere and processed the DNA strands via our shiny new Bentolab! This is a Millennium Point Trust supported programme using art and science to encourage girls into astrobiology.

You might have also seen that our bid for Festival 2022 made it to the R&D stage and even though our team’s creative offering wasn’t ultimately selected, for the full funding we are so proud of the project and team we put together. Our events would have included swarms of swimming robots by the wonderful artist Michael Candy, digital waterfalls cascading from buildings in Birmingham’s City Centre, a globally accessible augmented reality game to play on your own devices and water borne performances; all put together within a narrative framework of planet health and working for behaviour changes to protect our ecology and improve our wellbeing.

The exhibition programming is particularly advanced. Our curator Louise has been putting details together for our gallery offerings for 2022 and beyond. The first show next year will feature the work of artist and filmmaker, Baff Akoto. Featuring moving image, live choreography and installations he will be exploring the lineage and complexities of post-colonial, African diasporic spirituality and cultural expression. The exhibition will offer us a way of exploring Commonwealth relations, politics and storytelling, using high quality, immersive technology. We’re excited to be working with Baff and have signed him up as a BOM Fellow, working with him on this and his amazing project UP/RISE which will manifest in Birmingham, Liverpool and London later this year.

Lockdown has also given us time to think about the next iteration of BOM. There’s so much we want to do, both creatively and for our community.

If you engaged with our activities online recently, thank you! Come and see us, and be part of what comes next.