Research infrastructures Science and society Promotion of young researchers

CERN opens a new science education and culture museum for the general public

On 7 October 2023, CERN inaugurated an iconic new building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. This new science education and culture museum is designed to introduce new generations to the beauty and mysteries of science.

Author: Laurent Salzarulo
The CERN Science Gateway from outside
The Science Gateway is a new iconic science education and culture museum for the general public. Photo: CERN

Route de Meyrin runs between two giant suspended tubes on the CERN site, which are reminiscent of the proton beam tunnels located several metres below ground. A footbridge acts as the backbone for the entire complex, linking the two tubes to three pavilions on either side of the road. This structure symbolises the link between science and the general public, between generations, and between educators and students. The complex was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, who also designed the Beyeler Foundation building in Basel and the Paul Klee Centre in Bern. It includes exhibits, lab workshops, a 900-seat auditorium, a gift shop and a restaurant. 4,000 m2 of roof-top solar panels ensure that the complex is energy-neutral. Over time, 400 newly planted trees will create a forest-like setting around the construction.

Financed through private donations

The idea for the Science Gateway came about in 2017. CERN quickly enlisted the support of private donors for the project, which was formally approved by the CERN Council in 2018. Thanks to outstanding collaboration with the Canton of Geneva, the building permit was issued as early as 2020. The project costs, roughly CHF 100 million, were covered entirely by private donations. The Science Gateway was inaugurated on 7 October 2023 in the presence of Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation. This ceremony was followed by a ministerial-level round table discussion on how scientific research infrastructures could be leveraged as platforms to encourage young people to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). State Secretary Martina Hirayama took part in this discussion.

Children experiment at CERN's Science Gateway
CERN Science Gateway laboratories give young people the chance to learn how to conduct scientific experiments. Photo: CERN

Discover the history of the Universe and the secrets of the infinitely small

The Science Gateway is now open to the public and welcomes individual visitors, groups and, in particular, primary and secondary school classes. The Science Gateway is intended to peak interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among children and young people. Interactive exhibits present CERN's activities and the impact of the technologies developed there. Visitors also learn about the history of the Universe, the secrets of the infinitely small and about quantum physics in a way that is very easy to understand. There are also hands-on lab workshops where young and old alike can conduct scientific experiments and meet researchers. In addition, scientific shows unveil the mysteries of matter, magnetism, data processing and colour. Visitors can round off their visit to the Science Gateway with a tour of CERN's facilities (prior booking required).

Located just 500 metres from the French-Swiss border, this complex forms a veritable gateway to Geneva and Switzerland from the Pays de Gex. There is no doubt that the Science Gateway, adjacent to the Globe of Science and Innovation, will become a landmark building in the region as well as an indispensable location promoting scientific culture to younger generations and the general public: half a million visitors from all over the world are expected to visit each year.

Laurent Salzarulo, SERI Deputy Head of unit International Research Organisations +41 58 483 95 87