Brisbanes Supercharged Super-successful Celebration of Science

24 March 2016


Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk
Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism and Major Events
The Honourable Kate Jones
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Over 120,000 people converged on Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct last week to share in the wonder of science during the inaugural World Science Festival Brisbane presented by the Queensland Museum.

A spider named Brian, stage productions celebrating Einstein’s life, a robot able to read emotions, turtle hatchlings, panel discussions, drones, science workshops, infinity swings, and explosive demonstrations were just some of more than 100 activities and events of the inaugural festival.

The festival program — a combination of free and ticketed events — included performance, debate, demonstrations and scientific delights from more than 100 of the world’s leading names in science and the arts.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the festival — one of the world’s most exciting, prestigious and innovative science events — offered something for everyone from science buffs to children.

“The World Science Festival Brisbane gave Queensland a fantastic opportunity to showcase our region’s latest innovations and scientific discoveries — work that is having a significant impact locally, nationally and globally,” she said.

The inaugural festival, supported by the Queensland Government and the generosity of several partner organisations, included more than 100 events and activities, featuring 124 participants from nine countries, assisted by more than 240 volunteers, which attracted more than 120,000 visitors across both the museum and the cultural forecourt. The free two-day outdoor Street Science extravaganza in the Cultural Forecourt drew crowds in excess of 36,000.

World Science Festival co-founder, Prof. Brian Greene, said he was thrilled by the success of the festival in Brisbane.

“Over the course of the festival, Australian visitors were inspired by close encounters with leading scientists, researchers, philosophers, artists, authors and inventors who explored and debated questions about the universe, our changing world, and the role science plays in some of the most urgent issues of our time," he said.

“And I had a spider named after me, something very cool that certainly doesn’t happen every day,” Professor. Greene said.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said she was delighted to see Queenslanders engaging with and being inspired by science.

“As we head into the future, science will be front and centre in generating new jobs, boosting the economy and improving our lives, so it’s wonderful to see it celebrated and made publicly accessible through the World Science Festival Brisbane,” Minister Enoch said.

The giant red Festival Lab — a 375m2 inflatable venue erected on the banks of the Brisbane River — hosted thousands of science enthusiasts at science-themed functions, trivia sessions, science comedy and workshops and the city lights and Story Bridge were ignited red.

Minister for Education and Tourism Kate Jones said Queensland has long been a tourism destination, recognised for its natural beauty, enviable subtropical climate and friendly locals.

“Now, thanks to the World Science Festival Brisbane and the passionate leadership of Queensland Museum’s CEO and Director Suzanne Miller, we will also be recognised as a hub for science, technology, engineering, maths and the arts,” Minister Jones said.

Exclusive rights have been granted to the Queensland Museum to present the event in the Asia-Pacific region for the next six years.

Queensland Museum Network CEO and Director, Professor Suzanne Miller, said science is so deeply entrenched in our lives that many people who use the wonders of science do so without thinking, understanding or observing that these products arose from the work of scientists.

“That’s the great thing about the World Science Festival model — it brings science out of the labs and into the streets where it’s highly visible and accessible to all.

“We knew Australians have a strong interest in science, however, we were very pleasantly surprised by the public’s overwhelmingly positive response to the festival.

“Even the rain on Sunday didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm with almost 65,000 visitors to the Museum during the festival. Over 17,500 people attended ticketed events, we had almost 100,000 visits to the festival website, and reached 400,000 via our social media channels.

“I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who collaborated on this amazing event, from international participants who flew half way around the world to share their stories, to our home-grown talent who showcased Queensland’s science achievements, to the volunteers who donated their time, the Queensland Museum staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, our generous partners and supporters, and the people of Queensland who so warmly welcomed the festival to our shores.

“We have a hard task ahead of us to make next year’s World Science Festival Brisbane even bigger and better, but that’s our goal and we hope the people of Queensland will help us achieve it,” Professor Miller said.

The World Science Festival Brisbane is also proudly supported by Brisbane Marketing, the city’s economic development board, as part of building the city’s major events calendar and showcasing world-leading innovation and scientific endeavours.

In addition to the Brisbane-based festivities, more than 3,000 Darling Downs and Townsville residents enjoyed the World Science Festival Brisbane regional programs.

The Wold Science Festival Brisbane was also proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, BHP Billiton.

About Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum is Australia’s most visited museum, in 2015 we welcomed 1.4 million vistiors.. We are a museum of natural history, cultural heritage, science and human achievement that tells the changing story of Queensland. The Museum houses permanent and changing exhibitions and also provides in-depth education experiences, innovative public programs, early childhood activities and entertaining holiday activities. We aim to connect visitors to Queensland, its people and Queensland’s place in the world - past, present and future, through exhibitions, displays and public programs. Behind the scenes, the Museum is home to millions of objects, specimens and artefacts that tell the changing story of Queensland.

About the World Science Festival

The World Science Festival brings together great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that presents the wonders of science and the drama of scientific discovery to a broad general audience.

The Festival’s flagship live event, launched in 2008, is an annual weeklong celebration and exploration of science. Through gripping debates, original theatrical works, interactive explorations, musical performances, intimate salons, and major outdoor experiences, the Festival takes science out of the laboratory and into the streets, parks, museums, galleries, and premier performing arts venues of New York City. Hailed a “new cultural institution” by The New York Times, the Festival has featured scientific and cultural luminaries including Stephen Hawking, Maggie Gyllenhaal, E.O. Wilson, John Lithgow, Sir Paul Nurse, Glenn Close, Harold Varmus, Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Weinberg, Philip Glass, Eric Lander, Steven Chu, Chuck Close, Richard Leakey, Bobby McFerrin, Sylvia Earle, Anna Deavere Smith, Oliver Sacks, Liev Schreiber, Mary-Claire King, Charlie Kaufman, Bill T. Jones, John Hockenberry, and Elizabeth Vargas, among many others.

The annual Festivals have collectively drawn more than 1.3 million visitors since 2008, and millions more have viewed the programs online. World Science U is the Foundation’s online education arm where students and lifelong learners can dive more deeply through artfully produced digital education content presented by world-renowned scientists.

The World Science Festival is a production of the Science Festival Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in New York City. The Foundation’s mission is to cultivate a general public informed by science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.