Monday, 30 March 2009

Review of Wallace & Gromit's World of Cracking Ideas

One thing which makes for a good hotel, restaurant or attraction is attention to detail. With this in mind I checked out the new Science Museum exhibition for kids - "Wallace and Gromit's World of Cracking Ideas." Many people will be making a special trip to see it, so will it be worth the effort?


It's visually imaginative, and there are some cracking set designs (including some of the appealing pair's original sets from the Aardman studios).

But what truly awful attention to practical detail. I mean really awful. Only the second day after opening, so much was wrong. The first exhibit of all - a phone box - didn't work. The second - a giant fun "smoothie mixer" - had a felt-tipped notice saying "Not Very Well" stuck on it. Only two of several music synthesisers were working, and these had tatty printed instructions which nobody could follow. A large TV-and-sofa contraption was so badly designed that only one child could use it at a time - even though it had two sets of controls. In fact, many exhibits only catered for tiny numbers of kids - there will be horrendous bottlenecks when the exhibition is full, despite the timed entry.

The organisers couldn't even provide a large enough table for the kids to play with all the cogwheels which were supplied for them to piece together.

The many red-shirted "explainers" were kept busy trying to firefight the results of all this bad design, and a great cacophany of noise bounced off all the surfaces making the animated screens nearly inaudible.

Whoever designed this looks as if they had no experience of working with large numbers of people - let alone children.

All this was interspersed with random and barely-explained exhibits of famous inventions in no kind of logical order. And, apparently you're supposed to think of your own cracking inventions, but we never found out how.

What an awful mess and you wonder how much money has been wasted.

Still, it was a large exhibition and not too crowded, so most children seemed to find something to do. It wasn't bad, overall, but the ones I took preferred looking round the Science Museum itself.


  1. I am constantly mystified that businesses of all kinds are paid loadsamoney to produce systems that doesn't work. The number of exhibitions I've been round where computers either don't work or have long queues. Or when you can't hear. Who are these people who design exhibitions and do they have any training? or don't they have eyes and ears and common sense more like.

  2. My family and I traveled all the way from Dublin for this exhibition, we are great Wallace and Gromit fans and it looks like we visited the exhibition on the same day as you. We were also disappointed that some of the exhibits weren’t working. I spoke to one of the red shirted “explainers” who told me that in his experience this was normal in the first couple of days of any exhibition that has the amount of ‘hands on’ exhibits. There is simply no way of knowing how every child or grown up is going to treat the machine. He promised that all the bits and bobs would be fixed by the next day. So we all visited again on Monday and he was right. My 2 children had a fantastic time (so did my wife and I) everything worked, the great thing is that afterwards they spoke about it for the rest of the day and yesterday when we got back home I had to go out and buy plasticine and other modeling equipment so that they could start creating.

    It is probably the best exhibition I have ever taken the family to, well done Science Museum!!!


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