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'The Air We Breathe' - opening later this year...


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‘The most important work of original research should be continuously carried on under most favourable circumstances’.

This was the vision of Joseph Chamberlain, a giant in the civic history of Birmingham. In 1900 Chamberlain proposed a ‘great school of universal instruction’ to perform this essential task – The University of Birmingham.

Metaphor is delighted to have the opportunity to work with the University at its new public engagement centre, The Exchange, which is due to open this Summer.

In 2016 the University was offered the chance to acquire the old headquarters of the Birmingham Municipal Bank (an institution championed, incidentally, by Joseph Chamberlain’s son Neville – the future prime minister). This iconic city centre building – located on Centenary Square – will be the setting for a series of temporary exhibitions showcasing the University’s world-leading research.

The Exchange will also provide a wide range of services for the City’s benefit – from a student incubator programme to conference and networking facilities.

Public trust in higher education is more important than ever, and the project is part of the University’s broader drive to return to its roots and recommit to its civic mission. The exhibitions will powerfully demonstrate how research conducted by the University has an enormous, positive and practical impact on the lives of city residents.

The Metaphor team is working with the University to develop the first temporary exhibition to be hosted at The Exchange: The Air We Breathe. This will look at the multi-faceted issue of air quality and how it impacts human health, climate and the environment.

The project offers an exciting challenge. Air quality is one of society’s most complex issues. Developing interactive and immersive displays that communicate this in a simple and compelling way will require creativity and innovation.

The goal is to leave visitors with an understanding of how the University is rising to the challenge, while inspiring them to get involved themselves. Few issues are more important for the future of both Birmingham and the wider world. The very air we breathe is at stake.

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