Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum - A Birmingham Gem!

Thinktank is a Science Museum in Millennium Point, Eastside, Birmingham that opened in 2001. It replaced the Newhall Street museum.


Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum opened in 2001 at Millennium Point located near Curzon Street in Eastside, Birmingham. It is a paid for attraction.

Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum

Spitfire at Thinktank (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

It replaced the previous Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry which was on Newhall Street in the Jewellery Quarter until 1997.

Newhall Square

Site of the former Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street until 1997, at Newhall Square (November 2009). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Most of the contents were moved over such as the City of Birmingham locomotive, and the last remaining City tram from the network that closed in 1953.

Thinktank

City of Birmingham 46235 at Thinktank (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Thinktank

Tram 395 to Short Heath on route 78 at Thinktank (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

They also have Boulton & Watt's Smethwick Engine inside.

Thinktank

Smethwick Engine at Thinktank (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Thinktank Science Garden

The Thinktank Science Garden opened in 2012 with the completion of Eastside City Park.

Thinktank Science Garden

Thinktank Science Garden (December 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Thinktank Kids' Park

The Kids' Park opened at the end of 2012 in Eastside City Park outside of Millennium Point. It was for youngsters under the age of 7, to have somewhere fun to play, and learn about the world around them. The science of sound, light, touch and movement. It is free to enter.

Thinktank Kids Park

Thinktank Kids' Park (December 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

The Past

Located on Level 0 on the ground floor at Thinktank. See various engines on display, plus the City of Birmingham locomotive. There is also the last surviving tram from the old Birmingham tram network, plus a pair of planes from WW2 hanging on the ceiling. Plenty of vintage cars, motorbikes and bicycles as well.

Thinktank

The Past at Thinktank (April 2013)). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

We Made It

This is on the mezannine floor on Level 1 at Thinktank. It started in 2013. "What has a cow got to do with a car?". See how a Mini is assembled, and other contraptions with nuts, bolts, gadgets and gizmo's.

Thinktank

We Made It at Thinktank (April 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The Present

"Investigating the Present" is on Level 2 at Thinktank near the main entrance. Galleries on this floor include Things about me, Wild life, Medicine matters and The Street.

Thinktank

The Present at Thinktank (April 2014). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The Future

This is on Level 3 at Thinktank. All about space, including aliens, robots and more. The Thinktank Planetarium is on this floor.

Thinktank

The Future at Thinktank (April 2014). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

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29 Jul 2020 - Elliott Brown
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The Present at Thinktank

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The first area you pass through at Thinktank would be The Present on Level 2. You enter the museum from the top floor of Millennium Point. Today it is called "Investigate the Present". Usually lots of families and children here having fun (back when they were open). Several galleries up here include: Things about me, Wild life, Medicine matters and The Street.

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The Present at Thinktank





The first area you pass through at Thinktank would be The Present on Level 2. You enter the museum from the top floor of Millennium Point. Today it is called "Investigate the Present". Usually lots of families and children here having fun (back when they were open). Several galleries up here include: Things about me, Wild life, Medicine matters and The Street.


The Present at Thinktank

Located on Level 2 of Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum at Millennium Point in Eastside is what is now called Investigate the Present. On my fist visit with my camera in April 2013, this area was quite busy with lots of families and their kids learning about all kinds of things up here. The second visit with my camera a year later in April 2014, it wasn't as busy so got to have a proper look this time.

 

Description below (from the official Thinktank website) of the 5 galleries in The Present:

 

Five fascinating galleries that uncover the science all around us. Here you can be a forensic detective, find out who bit the Jurassic crocodile, and explore your senses with a giant tongue.

The galleries are located on Level 2.

 

Things About Me Gallery

This unique gallery gives kids the chance to find out more about how our bodies work. Take an unusual journey into the human body and get to grips with your muscles, guts and taste buds in an amazing exploration of some basic bodily functions. Meet the TAM gang and go supermarket shopping or join them for an aerobics work out.

 

Wild Life Gallery

Explore the diversity of life and the range of habitats found on Earth. There are many animals including insects, birds and mammals, together with fossils and sensational creatures such as Giant Deer, a Jurassic Crocodile and Triceratops skull!



Family Packs

Borrow for free one of our 'Wildlife' activity packs, designed to help you explore our museums. Suitable for 3 - 8 year olds.



Medicine Matters Gallery

The Medicine Matters Gallery is all about modern medicine and medical breakthroughs. Learn about the role of Birmingham scientists in recent medical advances.

 

The Street Gallery

Uncover the astonishing science and technology underlying everyday life in a walk down The Street.

 

Things About Me

All about parts of the human body.

The googly sign of the Things About Me. Seen during the April 2013 visit.

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Your mouth, tounge and teeth.

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What happens to food when it goes down your throat. Twist to draw air into the body and watch what happens to the epiglottis.

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Lungs and the rib cage.

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Your intestines. Can you squeeze them back in, it's a tight fit.

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A close up look at the small intestine. Also your liver.

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How is your food digested? Seen in the Things About Me during the April 2014 visit.

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All about your beating heart. Interactive displays. Press the buttons.

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How do your brain and senses work? Showing the links from your hands, and your eyes and ears.

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All about your digestive system. Interact with those levers and turn the displays in front of you.

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Food on the table on your plate.

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Wild Life

Technically the bones and stuffed animals were found years ago, but scientists using them to learn about animals in the natural world.

Triceratops skull seen during the April 2013 visit. It was found in Montana, USA in 1908. It came to Birmingham in 1958.

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A Giant Deer skeleton. This is a skeleton of an extinct giant deer. Discovered beneath a peat bog in Ireland.

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Various stuffed animals (taxidermy). Starting with this Polar Bear. Seen during the April 2014 visit. Ursus martimus from the Arctic.

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The main one here was a Blackbuck. Antilope cervicapra from India.

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And a Leopard. Panthera pardus.

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Medicine Matters

Scientific discoveries in Birmingham in this gallery.

Pikachu from Pokemon. First seen in a Nintendo video game back in 1997 on the Game Boy or Game Boy Advance. This was the famous Pokemon with a shock. Was also some Pokemon cartoons around the turn of the century (late 1990s into the early 2000s). Seen during the April 2013 visit.

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The language of the genes. Cracking the DNA code. Seen during the April 2014 visit.

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The Immunity Maze in Medicine Matters.

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The Street

Everyday things on The Street, from roadworks to recycling.

Entrance to The Street. Seen during the April 2014 visit.

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Underground services. Water, gas and electricity roadworks. Danger site.

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Looking down at the underground services. Gas, water or electricity.

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Heading towards the Zebra crossing. This way towards Medicine Matters. Kids' City to the right.

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From the Zebra crossing on The Street, you can head over to Medicine Matters or Kids's City.

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Yellow digger with coloured balls to pick up. Seen during the April 2013 visit. A boy was on the other side at the controls.

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Microwave energy in The Street.

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Section about recycling. This machine recycles Aluminium cans.

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This machine recycles plastic bottles.

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Another view of the recycling machines.

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Know your rubbish! Most things you throw away end up in landfill or buried by incinerators. Some items can be saved and recycled and turned into something else.

dndimg alt="The Present" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank The Present (Apr 2014) (16).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Kids' City

A mini city for kids and families to learn together. It is off The Street to the right.

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Coloured squares and triangles with numbers 1 to 21.

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Victorian style lamppost in Kids' City.

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More colourful walls, and a "tree". Pictures of foxes on the right.

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Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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Go to space in the Future at Thinktank

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On Level 3 of Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum is The Future. All about space and the Thinktank Planetarium is up here! This visit was during April 2014. See an astronaut, an alien, robots and more! Get the lift up there, or go up the stairs. An idea for a Planetarium goes back to when one was proposed for what is now Centenary Square (1941 model). This one in Eastside opened in 2001.

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Go to space in the Future at Thinktank





On Level 3 of Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum is The Future. All about space and the Thinktank Planetarium is up here! This visit was during April 2014. See an astronaut, an alien, robots and more! Get the lift up there, or go up the stairs. An idea for a Planetarium goes back to when one was proposed for what is now Centenary Square (1941 model). This one in Eastside opened in 2001.


THE FUTURE AT THINKTANK

Space, the Final Frontier, these are the voyages of the Starship Birmingham, it's continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no one has gone before!

Located on Level 3 at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum in Millennium Point is an area called The Future. I went up there during the April 2014 visit to Thinktank. Using our free Thinktank vouchers, took advantage during 2014 while it was still valid. But you have to wear a wristband. I didn't get around to going up to The Future the year before in April 2013.

 

The area is now called Find the Future. But expect that it is the same exhibits as 6 years earlier. And many of it would have been placed here back in 2001 when the museum opened.

Below is the description on the Thinktank website:

Explore the outer reaches of space, get to grips with innovative inventions and marvel at how medical advancements are saving lives. Head to Talking Point to consider scientists’ predictions for the future – and have your say!

The Futures gallery brings to life how science, technology and medicine have a huge impact on the way we live - now and in the future.

With interactive exhibits such as Create an Alien and RoboThespian, the Futures gallery aims to stimulate debate, explore scientific issues and question our place in the Universe.

 

The Planetarium now has a 4K system, but at the time of our visit in 2014 they still had the old 2001 version (it was voiced I think by former BBC Midlands Today presenter Sue Beardsmore).

This is the description for the Planeterium on the Thinktank website:

Step inside Thinktank’s Planetarium and explore the outer reaches of space, get up close to constellations, journey through the night-sky and adventure through the solar system!

In addition to astronomy, there will be shows that allow you to travel through the human body; dive under the ocean; shrink to the size of an atom or allow yourself to be immersed completely in music and light.

 

There could have been an even earlier Planetarium built in what is now Centenary Square. As seen in this model made in 1941. It would have been located close to Broad Street approximately where Symphony Hall is now. But due to World War 2, this plan was abandoned, and only Baskerville House (completed in 1938) and the Hall of Memory (opened in 1925) were built in the end. Birmingham wouldn't get a Planeterium until Thinktank opened in Millennium Point in 2001! Saw the model at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre during an open day in May 2012.

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After the war, Roman Imperial imagery went out of fashion, so this plan for a civic square never came to be. The proposed planetarium would have been to the far left of the Broad Street site.

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Birds-eye view of the model where the proposed Planetarium would have been located. The model was made by William Haywood, who was Secretary of The Birmingham Civic Society. In the end, it would another 60 years before a Planetarium would open at Thinktank in Millennium Point.

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Now for a tour of The Future from my visit during April 2014.

First view of The Future after heading up the stairs to Level 3. Saw these yellow tubes in the centre of the room. They might be just below the Planetarium.

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The outside of the Planetarium. When inside, it's a bit like sitting in a cinema, but looking up at the ceiling with all the changing images of the solar system and the planets and beyond!

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This part was called the Future of Space. With an image of the planet Earth on it.

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They had a full astronaut suit on display. Probably from the European Space Agency if not from NASA.

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The front of the astronaut's suit. Could do with a helmet right now! That would protect you from the glare from the sun.

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A look at RoboThespian. It was an anamatronic.

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Close up look at the top half of RoboThespian.

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Saw this Mars Rover on a recreation of the surface of the Martian planet. A bit like what NASA would send there.

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An alien with 9 eyes! This was an animation that kept changing. Imagining what aliens could look like?

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They had a couple of Gyroscopes on display. They look like remote controlled helicopters. Before drones was invented.

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A moving robot arm. This is a screenshot from the video I took, as the only photo I got of it, showed it in motion while it was moving. It looks like the robot arm was drumming on a drum kit.

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Futher displays in The Future. All sections here was interactive with a touchscreen. And behind the objects was screens explaining what the object was all about.

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Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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The Thinktank Science Garden outside of Millennium Point

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The Thinktank Science Garden opened in the new Eastside City Park in December 2012. I initially saw it after it opened. Then a few years later had a close up look at the Thinktank Science Garden during another visit to Thinktank in April 2014. You need your ticket to enter. It has been so hot of late, so cool off digitally with the fun water jets here.

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The Thinktank Science Garden outside of Millennium Point





The Thinktank Science Garden opened in the new Eastside City Park in December 2012. I initially saw it after it opened. Then a few years later had a close up look at the Thinktank Science Garden during another visit to Thinktank in April 2014. You need your ticket to enter. It has been so hot of late, so cool off digitally with the fun water jets here.


Thinktank Science Garden

I was first aware of the Thinktank Science Garden, while Eastside City Park was being built during 2012, outside of Millennium Point (not far from Curzon Street).

In February 2012, I saw signs on the hoardings for Eastside City Park which said:

 
Where scientastic things happen!
 
Thinktank will be taking science outdoors in 2012 with the opening of a new Science Garden. The whole family can get 'hands-on' and 'bodies-on' with our extraordinary outdoor exhibits, and explore the science and engineering that shape your world in our three themed areas - energise, mechanise and mobilise.
The Science Garden will be located directly in front of Thinktank and is part of the Eastside City Park.

 

It was originally supposed to open in the Summer of 2012. But wasn't really completed until early December 2012 when Eastside City Park was first opened to the public. You used to be able to enter the Science Garden using your Thinktank ticket, but according to the official website it is free to enter after 3pm. In the winter period it normally closes at 4pm. It is located in front of Level 0 of Thinktank in Eastside City Park.

There would have been similar hands on contraptions at the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry as I remember interacting with them at the Newhall Street site back in the 1990s. Sadly the old museum closed down in 1997, with the majority of the contents being moved to the new Millennium Point site, which opened in 2001. The old museum was free, but the new museum is a paid for attraction.

Most of what you see below was probably newly built in 2012 (unless they recycled parts from the previous museum).

 

2012

My first wonder around Eastside City Park was on the 9th December 2012. The park was opened by the then leader of Birmingham City Council on the evening of the 5th December 2012. While there I had a look at the Thinktank Science Garden from the outside. It was not open.

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Only a year earlier in 2011, this was part of the outdoor Millennium Point car park. But that got replaced with a multi-storey car park, enabling this land to be built into a park.

dndimg alt="Thinktank Science Garden" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Science Garden (Dec 2012) (2).jpg" style="width: 100%;" />

Views of the scientific machines kids can interact with such as the Chain drive (the clock tower), and the wind turbines (on the left).

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The view towards the site of what is now the Curzon Building at Birmingham City University (before it was built). But at the time they were finishing off the Parkside Building. Also visible is the now demolish Curzon Gate student accommodation (to make way for HS2). It was demolished in 2019.

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2013

Views of the entrance to the Thinktank Science Garden seen during March 2013. This was around half a month before paid to go to Thinktank for the first time with my then camera.

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At the time was probably heading to work, so went via Eastside City Park for once. This was before 10am so wasn't open at the time. And when I did pay to go to Thinktank at the beginning of April 2013, I didn't go into the Science Garden at the time.

dndimg alt="Thinktank Science Garden" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Science Garden (March 2013) (2).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

2014

During the April 2014 visit to Thinktank, we popped into the Science Garden with our tickets. I had some free vouchers from the Birmingham Museums Trust which I could use at Thinktank, as I had a photo of the BT Tower at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery during 2013. So had to use them in 2014 before they expired.

This is called Water playscape.

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A close up look at one third of Water playscape. Water was coming out of the tap into the bucket. There was also plastic watering cans and hoses in the pool of water here.

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Here we have Elastic squirt. Fire up the wate piston. At the time I was thee I had a go but it didn't really work for me.

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Next up we have Effort. Looks like it was balancing wooden hands on it.

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Didn't get the name of this machine, but it is tall cylinder with a red arrow on the top.

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Then there was the Human hamster wheel.

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Then there was the Wind turbines.

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The main landmark of the Science Garden was the Chain drive. Looks like a clocktower.

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The next contraption was called Hang in the balance.

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Build a bridge. This was one thing I recall from the old Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry on Newhall Street. Although I don't know if it was saved from there, or completely a new build.

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Also saw this Car with square wheels. Two square wheels and two round wheels. Won't get very far.

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And finally we have this thing that was part of Mobilise. Maybe you have to move those rubber items around the steel tubes?

dndimg alt="Thinktank Science Garden" dndsrc="../uploadedfiles/Thinktank Science Garden (April 2014) (12).JPG" style="width: 100%;" />

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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