The Covid-19 pandemic struck the unsuspecting World with terrible ferocity and swiftness in January 2021 and claimed huge casualties. But unlike such earlier outbreaks, the World was prepared to quickly devise a defence to this new virulent disease. Where vaccines took decades to be formulated, in this case, scientists of the World could, using modern techniques hitherto unknown and unused, devised several versions of an effective vaccine in less than a year of its appearance. The virus stood overpowered if not defeated. This exhibition curated by NCSM and the Science Museum Group of UK, tells us the story of the creation of a modern-day vaccine and its many facets, with its human side.
Scott McDonald, Chief Executive, British Council, said, “Our India/ UK Together Season of Culture demonstrates our commitment to emerging India and UK artists, enabling them to connect and create engaging work. This ground-breaking exhibition provides a brilliant artistic interpretation of how India and the UK addressed one of our greatest collective challenges – the pandemic – through the vaccine partnership. My congratulations go to the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), the Science Museum Group in London and to the artists for their dynamic collaboration.”
The exhibition has sections on ‘The Arrival of New Virus’, ‘Designing a New Vaccine’, ‘Trials, Results and Approvals’, ‘Scaling Up and Mass Production’, ‘Vaccine Rollout’, ‘Living with COVID’ and tells the story of the global effort to find new ways to develop vaccines at pandemic speed and look at vaccinations more broadly with a historical and contemporary view. The exhibition set out the scientific principles underlying a vaccine’s creation and efficacy while capturing the behind-the-scenes work that accompanies their rapid development, production, transport, and delivery. The exhibition showcases ‘Through the Lens’, an artwork commissioned by British Council and created through collaboration between Indian sculptor based in Delhi, Sushank Kumar, and a playwright in London, Nigel Townsend. The artwork seeks to explore our relationship with Vaccination historically and in the light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
The exhibition has been developed by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) in collaboration with Science Museum, London and with support from Wellcome, UK, ICMR, India, NIV, Pune, Serum Institute of India, CSIR, AIIMS, NIBMG, Kalyani and various other research and scientific organisation.
Shri Arijit Dutta Choudhury, Director General of the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), India said, “After the grand success of the exhibition ‘Superbugs: The End of Antibiotics?’ this is another project where we have collaborated with the SMG group, London for raising awareness among masses about the importance of vaccines in our lives. Due to Corona pandemic, it will be very much relevant in India. This time we have added one Mobile Science Exhibition (MSE) Bus to travel to the nearby areas of each location. The MSE Bus will mainly communicate the messages of the exhibition in rural areas. At the same time, I hope, the project will further strengthen the bond between the two leading Science Museums network in India & UK.”
Later, the exhibition will be on display at Raman Science Centre and Planetarium, Nagpur (August 5, 2023-December 31, 2023), Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai (February 10, 2024-July 28, 2024), Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bengaluru (September 7, 2024-February 28, 2025) and Science City, Kolkata (April 12, 2025-September 30, 2025), and is expected to reach out to more than 2 million people.