National Science And Media Museum To Celebrate A Century Of Broadcasting With New Summer Exhibition 

The National Science and Media Museum is set to launch a new major exhibition this summer, celebrating the last 100 years of broadcasting and the innovations that have shaped everyday life.  

Opening on 23 July,  Switched On will take visitors on a journey from the first radio microphones to the invention of colour television and the rise of on-demand video and streaming services. The exhibition will examine the industry through 14 pioneers linked with broadcasting innovations who have forced the industry to adapt, improve and make room for more voices. Visitors will learn about influential trailblazers like David Attenborough who led the introduction of colour on BBC2 or Delia Derbyshire, who created the Doctor Who theme tune in 1963, marking the first television tune made purely from electronic sound, among many others.  

Visitors will also be able to experience first-hand the last century of broadcasting innovations through six interactives including a live camera feed that will show the evolution of television displays over time.  

To celebrate the exhibition and the start of the summer holidays, a special family day will be taking place at the museum on 30 July. The family event will mark major broadcasting milestones with family-friendly activities including learning about broadcasting pioneer David Attenborough, through interactive storytelling, along with hands-on opportunities to try out being a camera operator or broadcasting a radio programme. 

Picture shows – David Attenborough at Television Centre (TVC), 1967.

Image courtesy of BBC Photo Archive

Lewis Pollard, Curator of Television and Broadcast at the National Science and Media Museum commented: “We’re incredibly excited to be taking part in the celebrations of the BBC’s centenary and shining a spotlight on the significant pioneers who have influenced and shaped the industry, with our new exhibition Switched On.  

Our museum tells the stories of sound and image technologies and their impact on our lives, and many of our objects would not be possible without the achievements of broadcasters like the BBC and the trailblazers who have continued to push the boundaries over the last 100 years.”  

Switched On is part of Broadcast 100, a bumper year of exhibitions, special displays, events and digital content across the Science Museum Group to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the BBC and the 40th anniversary of Channel 4.  

The Science Museum Group has also digitised 1,000 new objects from the BBC Heritage Collection to continue to tell the stories of the broadcaster. Featuring newly digitised objects alongside archival images and films, the National Science and Media Museum has launched new online stories on its website. These stories cover diverse topics from the history of broadcasting, including the history of children’s television, women in broadcasting, and the invention of television. 

Picture shows – Broadcasting House, Studio 7A (Empire Studio), June 1932 – ‘the Bomb’ condenser-type microphone, introduced on 1934, can be seen on the on the desk.

Image courtesy of BBC Photo Archive

The Broadcast 100 programme is supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery.  

Switched On is supported by the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), using public funding from Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation. SIGN is based at the University of York.