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History of Life

Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth II with Linda Conlon, Life Science Centre's Chief Executive.

For more than 20 years, Life has been a place where people can go to discover the wonders of science – whether it’s a young child getting a glimpse of the Earth from space, or a researcher working on life-changing treatment.

Our story is part of the fabric of Newcastle

The story of Life begins

When the idea of Life was first discussed, it was an exciting time for science.

The world was discussing the pitfalls and potential of stem cell research, thanks to stories such as that of Dolly the Sheep – the first mammal ever to be cloned from an adult cell.

Life’s project partners saw the potential in a space that explored genetic and genomic medicine. They came up with the innovative idea of a science hub that would not just be home to a visitor attraction that would help people explore and understand science – but also to cutting-edge research and treatment.

Life was built on the site of the old Newcastle Infirmary, and designed by celebrated North East architect Sir Terry Farrell. It now plays host to a popular  science centre, and is home to researchers and clinicians, as well as bars, nightclubs and outdoor events.

Mother And son completing hands-on science activity in Experiment Zone.

A place that excites

Life welcomes more than a quarter of a million people every year to its science centre. We work with partners across the North East to make it a welcoming place for visitors with autism, deafness and other sensory needs.

School student exploring exciting STEM career in Life Science Centre's Space Zone.

A place that educates

Led by inspirational educators, our schools programme brings science to life for students from reception to post-16. We provide hands-on activities and learning experiences that can’t be replicated in the classroom.

Body Worlds was a very popular previous exhibit in the science centre.

A place that showcases

As well as our ever-changing roster of self-made exhibitions and activities, we have also welcomed exciting temporary exhibitions such as Body Worlds Vital, Game On, and the new permanent art installation of planet Earth: Gaia.

Research scientist working in a laboratory at Centre for Life.

A place that discovers

Scientists based at Life were the first in the world to clone a human embryo back in 2005. The tireless and outstanding work of the researchers and clinicians on site has continued ever since.

A place that inspires

There have been many special visitors to Life over the years. The late Queen officially opened the science centre more than two decades ago, and we’ve also welcomed guests such as astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman.

Times Square during a busy live music concert, part of The International Centre for Life

A place that entertains

Life is also home to bustling nightclubs and bars, and its Times Square space has been the site of an annual outdoor ice rink, music concerts and live screenings of major events such as the football World Cup. 

Read about the evolving story of Life