Right of Reply: Katherine Hann

On Monday, Charles Arthur wrote of a dispute over the fate of the Exploratory, Bristol's science museum. Here, the director of its successor, Explore-at-Bristol, responds
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The Independent Culture
CHARLES ARTHUR ("pounds 97m spent on `silly' revamp of museum", 30 August) is right to pay tribute to Professor Richard Gregory and the Exploratory, the existing Bristol science centre, and all they have done for science. In praising these achievements, he does not, however, do justice to the new science centre, Explore-at-Bristol, opening in spring 2000, which takes forward the work of the Exploratory in new ways.

Explore is part of "at-Bristol", a pounds 97m landmark millennium project in the centre of the city. We are seeking to widen the appeal of science, nature and the arts and two new centres are being created, Explore-at- Bristol and Wildscreen-at-Bristol, as well as a public art programme throughout the new squares and walkways. At-Bristol focuses on people, their brains and how this affects the way they see the world, their dreams for technology, their piece in evolution and their impact on the planet.

Although we are firm supporters of "hands-on" science, there is no doubt that it is best applied to 18th- and 19th-century science phenomena such as light, electricity and magnetism. For many newer areas of science, different techniques are needed. They are still interactive, but we want to choose the best method for communicating messages and encouraging people to explore the world around them.

And that's the point; just as the Exploratory set new standards in its time, so Explore will be setting new standards for the 21st century. Indeed, Dr Alan Friedman, director of the New York Hall of Science, recently said: "At-Bristol has every sign of becoming a winner, and the first true 21st- century science centre."

But don't take his word for it. Come and judge for yourself when we open in spring 2000.

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