Microcosm reloaded!

On 20 July, Microcosm reopened its doors to the public. CERN’s guides are already leading many enthusiastic visitors through the new attractions of the popular exhibition. More areas will reopen progressively over the coming weeks before the official inauguration this autumn.


A group of visitors is guided through the new Microcosm exhibit.

After six months of extensive refurbishment work, Microcosm is back and open for public visits. As some installations are not yet up and running, CERN’s guides are there to provide visitors with additional explanations. “The two groups I guided were amazed to see real detector components before their eyes, laid out in inviting and informative displays,” says Achintya Rao, member of the CMS collaboration and a CERN guide. “The life-sized CMS mock-up and the CCC panorama are excellent locations to have in-depth conversations with enthusiastic visitors and give them a glimpse into everyday life at CERN.”

The total renovation of the exhibition is a collective CERN effort. “Entirely remodelling an exhibition and bringing a building up to modern safety standards all in the space of only eight months was a real challenge,” confirms Emma Sanders, the project leader and member of the Education Group. “Practically all CERN’s departments have been involved! We had help from right across the Lab.”

In particular, the amazing new design was the result of a very successful collaboration with the Spanish design team, Indissoluble. “One of the biggest challenges was the reconfiguration of the previous space, consisting of a series of small areas with different functions and different constraints to the visitor flow,” says Cristina Garcia, the architect. “The way we dealt with this was to create larger and clearer spaces to allow a smoother visit, which also seems to increase the existing area.”

Some of the new exhibits were challenging to build. “The life-sized CMS mock-up is made from 46 different extruded pieces, multiplied by mirrors on walls and floors, creating a full slice through the experiment. The result is spectacular and makes a great impact on the visitor,” says Garcia. “It has been a real thrill for us to be so immersed in the contents and the design process of the Microcosm exhibition. Initially, some of us got lost in CERN's infinite corridors, but after a few visits we got to love the Laboratory and we consider it our home. People here have made us feel part of CERN’s big family.”

by Stefania Pandolfi