Intel contributes to millennium museum

The £47 million extension to London's Science Museum was boosted today by a three-year sponsorship deal with Intel worth £1.5 million.

Intel described the part they are playing in the project as being one of "enlightened self-interest". According to Sean Maloney, corporate vice president of Intel, donations of this kind are an important contribution to educating the next generation about technology, and he regards the Science Museum as a unique vehicle for getting this message across.

The Wellcome wing, due to open in June 2000 aims to be a world-leading centre of science and technology, with main emphasis on developments in biomedical science and the digital revolution. The ground floor will be a "science piazza" with hands-on exhibits and a news and views section detailing the latest developments in artificial intelligence, brain imagery and genetics.

Exhibits on three other floors will include a 450 seat IMAX cinema -- which chairman of trustees, Sir Peter Williams hopes will act as a "honeypot" for visitors -- and the latest in digital technology, from gadgets and robots to a sector devoted to the cultural impact of technology.

Graham Farmelo, head of exhibitions at the museum believes it will be the beginning of a new era for the museum. "We want to renew our museum for the millennium and inspire the Bill Gates of the future" he said. This message was echoed by Williams, who hopes the new wing will change people's perspective of the role of museums. "We will respond effectively and rapidly to technology news," he said. "People will no longer look at museums as being about the past. We want to engage in dialogue with visitors, not just tell them what is out there."

To this end, Intel will also assist with the creation of a 3D website. Sean Maloney, believes this will be an important part of the museum's work. "The cyberspace world can never replace the real world but the Web offers children who do not have the opportunity to visit the chance to find out about a museum" he said.

With the lions share of investment coming from the Wellcome Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition will be a major undertaking and one which Williams hopes will outlive rival millennium projects. "We're going to be here in 100 years time and the millennium dome isn't" he said.