Celebrating 30 years of science magic

This October we mark the 30-year anniversary of CuriOXity, our very first science centre, which opened to the public in the Old Fire Station, George Street in 1990. To celebrate three decades of science magic, families are invited to join us for a special Family Open Day at the Science Oxford Centre on Saturday 3rd October.

For this special occasion, we will be performing our very first, and still most popular, ‘Science of Magic’  – socially distanced – show in the theatre, led by the original centre manager, Mike Dennis, who created and performed the show back in the early days. You can also see displays based on staff and visitor memories of CuriOXity, which remained a popular Oxford destination for families welcoming well over 100,000 visitors in its time.

Science of Magic Show with Mike Dennis, 1992 

CuriOXity, and all of our subsequent ventures since 1990, have inspired children and their families – and even royals – to get excited by science with a range of cutting-edge interactive exhibits, games and activities – a legacy we have continued in our amazing Exploration Zone today!

Prince Charles admires a CuriOXity exhibit, 1996

Science Oxford went on to open a new centre on St Clements, Oxford in autumn 2005 and our interactive ‘Hands-On’ exhibition space became the busy ‘Discovery Zone’. This public space closed in summer 2013, when we ran events at The Basement at our new OCFI building and delivered science-inspired shows and workshops in schools, plus events for all ages across Oxfordshire and Bucks. We launched the Science Oxford Centre in Headington in 2019.

In the Exploration Zone you can have a go at our hands-on exhibits and beat the super-fast Scarf-Shooter, have a blast on the Air Table, or take our Turntable challenge and keep the discs spinning. We’re lucky to have 15 acres of woodland to explore around the Science Oxford Centre – the UK’s first indoor-outdoor primary science centre – so you can take muddy trails and spot wildlife, plants and trees.

Science Oxford Centre Exploration Zone, 2020

Science Oxford’s Bridget Holligan (pictured below) was one of the early staff at CuriOXity and is now our Director of Education and Engagement. Bridget is looking forward to hearing from anyone who visited CuriOXity, perhaps as a child – and how people may have been inspired by Science Oxford over the years…

Science and discovery centres with hands-on exhibits, like Curioxity and our Science Oxford Centre, have always provided really special experiences for families because of the science play and exploration that they offer. We know that this environment really helps children to see science as being something ‘for them’ and that parents really appreciate how amazing places like this are at allowing their children to develop valuable skills whilst also having lots of fun! We’re so happy to still be inspiring children in this way after 30 years and, despite the possibility of there being a few embarrassing photos on display, Mike and I can’t wait to celebrate our special anniversary day with families on 3 October!

Bridget, Playday 1997

Bridget, Science Oxford Centre, 2019

Did you visit our centres? What was your favourite exhibit? How did your visit inspire you? Share your memories with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag @scienceoxford using the hashtag #30YearsofCuriOXity or email [email protected], or tell us about your memories on the day.

In 1990 The Oxford Trust opened CuriOXity at the Old Fire Station in Oxford – watch the TV news-reel and find out what happened! Were you there?

Book here for The Science of Magic Family Open Day, 3rd October

Your ticket includes two hours in the Exploration Zone and access to woodland all day. The Science of Magic show is optional and included in the entry price.

Check out our other events here.

CuriOXity, Old Fire Station 1990

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