Barnsley Museums launch exciting new project that combines science and art

Barnsley Museums are delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new visual art project, Brains in a Dish led by artist Charlie Murphy and working in collaboration with new technologist Robin Bussell and Professor Selina Wray.

A fascinating research & development project focused upon Professor Wray’s scientific explorations will be the basis of a major exhibition at the Cooper Gallery in September 2022, and engage local audiences, communities and the glass industry in Barnsley.

Brains in a Dish is a creative response to, Barnsley born, Prof Wray’s critical research into the causes of Dementia. Wray uses innovative new bioengineering techniques to grow brain cells in a dish so she can see how these cells differ in their development, appearance, structure and behaviour. Raising questions such as, how do brain diseases like dementia impact on a cellular level?

Artwork for the exhibition will be created by Charlie and Robin, who will test, explore and develop new ways of making new large-scale multimedia artworks which expand upon Murphy’s use of robotic lasers and intricate glass sculptures. Together they will look at ways to replicate the tools and methodologies of Wray’s work while upscaling the physical and visual experience.

The Brains team will share progress into their work and insights into the creative processes through online talks and events. In addition, Charlie will be leading mentoring sessions with local artists and glass practitioners.

Charlie, Robin and Prof Wray are discussing their project at a live event for Normal? Festival of the Brain on Friday 29 January at 7pm. People can join them online and hear about Growing the Stuff of Thought by visiting

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place (Regeneration and Culture) said: “Barnsley Museums are delighted to be involved in such an important and innovative project.  The work of Prof Wray is ground-breaking and for Charlie and Robin to create a physical representation of this will be fascinating.  It is wonderful to see art and science combined in this way”

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This new R&D phase of the Brains in a Dish is supported by Barnsley Museums, University College London and the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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