CERN receives more than 300 000 requests for visits every year, demonstrating the public’s increasing interest in science. In 2017, to meet this demand, the Laboratory launched an ambitious project: Science Gateway, a science outreach and education centre designed to welcome more visitors than ever before and to spark curiosity about fundamental research in the younger generations.
In June 2021, the adventure began with a ceremony to mark the laying of the foundation stone. Just two years later, the iconic Science Gateway building has already become an emblem of CERN.
Designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano, the building consists of three pavilions and two “tubes” connected by a suspended walkway, transcending the limits of conventional architecture. The two tubes above the road symbolise the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel, which lies 100 metres beneath them. Seen from above, the impressive structure resembles a space station in the middle of a forest of 400 trees, evoking the quintessential links between science and our environment.
Inside this architectural masterpiece, the final touches are being made to the exhibitions, which have been developed by CERN scientists in close collaboration with exhibition design experts. Interactive activities have been specially designed to entertain a wide range of visitors, from the young to the not-so-young and seasoned scientists and science enthusiasts alike.
From 8 October onwards, the centre will welcome visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, 8.00 a.m. to 6 p.m., all year round. Their first port of call will be the huge welcome pavilion, where the experience begins. On the first floor, school groups, families and individual visitors will be able to work together in laboratories and carry out practical experiments under the supervision of CERN guides.
The two tubes above the Route de Meyrin, representing CERN’s accelerators, house two of the three permanent exhibitions: Discover CERN and Our Universe.
Discover CERN includes a real, working particle accelerator, an LHC dipole magnet and a series of interactive exhibits explaining the scientific and technical concepts related to accelerator development. The Our Universe exhibition, located in the second tube, places CERN’s research in the context of the evolution of the Universe and sheds light on scientific concepts associated with quark–gluon plasma and CERN’s antimatter experiments. Another area of the exhibition is dedicated to four artworks created by the artists in residence of the Arts at CERN programme, which encourage visitors to think about science and how it interacts with the human experience.
As well as housing traditional exhibitions, Science Gateway is a place where science comes to life, inviting visitors not only to explore the advances made in particle physics but also to immerse themselves in and interact with the complex concepts that underpin our Universe, through the explanations and work of CERN’s scientists.
The Quantum World exhibition, which is located next to the two tubes, invites visitors to discover and interact with the strange laws of quantum physics, for example by playing a game of quantum tennis or having a go at quantum karaoke!
After exploring the exhibitions, visitors can relax at the Big Bang Café in the welcome pavilion or enjoy refreshments in the park that surrounds the centre. Finally, before leaving Science Gateway, they can visit the shop, where they will find a range of souvenirs.
The opening of Science Gateway marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in CERN’s history. The facility will play a role that goes far beyond science outreach. It will be the nerve centre of CERN’s scientific activities. Science Gateway boasts a spacious 900-seat auditorium that will be used for various purposes, including meetings of CERN’s experiment collaborations, scientific announcements, events organised by external parties and even science activities and shows put on by CERN’s guides to breathe life into complex scientific concepts.
Thanks to the generosity of the donors and the support of the local authorities and the CERN & Society Foundation, Science Gateway will enable CERN to continue to disseminate science, to bring together its key players and to foster the proliferation of ideas that has characterised the Laboratory for almost 70 years.
Science Gateway will be opening in a few days. Many visitors have already seen the facility from the outside, but there’s a lot left for them to discover!
To find out more about Science Gateway and to plan your visit, go to:
The number of parking spaces is limited. CERN strongly recommends that visitors use public transport to get to Science Gateway, wherever possible.
- From Gare Cornavin in Geneva, tram 18 is a very practical option. The 21-minute journey costs only 2 to 3 CHF.
- From France, bus 68 in the direction of Blandonnet will bring you to the CERN stop.
You can find timetables and more information on the Geneva public transport website: https://www.tpg.ch/