CERN’s travelling exhibition goes to Austria

Since April 2009 CERN’s travelling exhibition has been touring through some of the Organization's Member States. After Italy and Denmark it has been on show since February at Austria’s Hartberg Ökopark, a very popular science museum situated some one hundred kilometres from Vienna. To coincide with the CERN exhibition, Austria’s scientific community has organised a series of events for the general public which have had marked success. The exhibition's next destination will be Portugal and preparations are already underway to ensure that it is another resounding success


The travelling exhibition was designed in collaboration with the University of Geneva, as part of the celebrations for its 450th anniversary, and has already notched up a good number of kilometres as it travels from country to country. “In 2010 the exhibition already had around 55,000 visitors,” explains Rolf Landua, who heads the Education Group. Since its inauguration in Geneva, the exhibition has moved onwards approximately every four to six months so that it can be enjoyed in as many Member States as possible. “The local organisers have organised events before the exhibition is set up as well as to coincide with it so that the general public is aware of its arrival,” explains Landua. In Austria, the local scientific community, and especially Laurenz Widhalm of the Austrian Institute of High-energy Physics (HEPHY), has been very active in contributing to an inauguration ceremony with the heads of local government and has arranged specially dedicated afternoon visits for schools.

The exhibition covers a surface area of 450m2 and is designed as an itinerary with five modules. The first module explains the evolution of the Universe with a projection of a film onto a circular screen on the floor. The second consists of touch screens and interactive tables that allow visitors to discover the world of particles. The third module comprises three audio points where the visitor can listen to physicists talking about their research at CERN. The fourth module is mainly devoted to the LHC and its operations, including the detectors and their scientific objectives. Finally, the fifth module shows how fundamental science generates different technological spin-offs that lead to applications commonly used in daily life. “The various modules allow the exhibition to be adapted to the layout of the premises allocated to it and also allow other additional elements to be integrated, such as the contribution of the various Member States to CERN's achievements and objectives,” explains Rolf Landua. In Austria, the local organisers have produced a stand presenting the large number of activities in which Austrian scientists are involved at CERN, as well as MedAustron, the new hadron therapy centre which will use accelerating modules developed in collaboration with CERN.

But how will the exhibition evolve in future? “The exhibition will continue to evolve as new discoveries are made at CERN in order to represent and transmit a constantly updated picture of our Laboratory,” explains Rolf Landua.

by Mélissa Lanaro