22nd June

Catalyst part of ‘A History of the North in 100 Objects’

A History of the North in 100 Objects is a website-based project intended to showcase the pioneering spirit and impact of the North of England’s inventors, artists, scientists and designers which was launched on 13th Jun 2018 as part of Great Exhibition of the North. It is funded by the National Lottery and developed by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM).

Nominated by staff from museums and galleries across Northern England, A History of the North in 100 Objects brings together objects that illustrate the richness that comes from this region and its people, such as the creation of railways, a flourishing artistic life, the drive for social reform and the sheer breadth and depth of world renowned inventions. These 100 objects tell just some of the inspiring stories that reveal the North’s ability to reinvent itself, to survive, thrive and create new futures for itself and others.

The object selected from Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum is a bottle of Fluothane, an anaesthetic, developed in the ICI Research Lab in Widnes which replaced flammable ether and liver-damaging chloroform. Dr Charles Suckling revolutionised the production of synthetic pharmaceuticals. Fluothane quickly became the most widely used inhalation anaesthetic in the world, a position it held until the 1990s.

In 2017 Lord Robert Winston chose the Widnes Research Lab as one of Historic England’s 10 most important places of scientific invention.

Iain Watson, Director TWAM said “The North of England is a hub of creativity and innovation. It’s where railways were born, it’s been home to some of our most creative inventors and now it’s a hub of scientific and industrial innovation. These 100 objects, selected by, and displayed in, Museums across Northern England reflect some of these stories. We won’t have everyone’s favourite object, but hope people will think about what objects tell stories they recognise as representing the North to them. Thank you to National Lottery players who have made this project possible.”

An interactive and engaging website has been specially created where these fascinating objects can be viewed: www.100objectsnorth.co.uk.

Visitors to the website are invited to curate their own collection by saving up to 10 objects into a personal ‘exhibition’ which can then be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or email. Users can vote for their favourite exhibitions and the most popular will be displayed prominently on the website. A key feature of Great Exhibition of the North, A History of the North in 100 Objects is also intended to act as a legacy for the Exhibition, as the website will be kept live for the foreseeable future.

The development of the website has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players and awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who provided a grant of over £800,000 towards TWAM’s participation in Great Exhibition of the North.