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CosmoCaixa opens a new permanent space dedicated to the microscopic world

The science museum of the "la Caixa" Foundation in Barcelona launches the Micrarium, which will allow visitors to observe that which is invisible to the naked eye and which only a scientific instrument such as the microscope can reveal
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 -   From left to right: the corporate director of Culture and Science of the "la Caixa" Foundation, Ignasi Miró; the scientific advisor of the space, the biologist and scientific photographer Rubén Duro, and the head of Science Exhibitions of the "la Caixa" Foundation, Javier Hidalgo, in the Micrarium of CosmoCaixa.

In line with its commitment to fostering curiosity and scientific vocations, CosmoCaixa has opened the Micrarium, a new permanent space where we can see the reality that surrounds us from a new perspective. The corporate director of Culture and Science of the "la Caixa" Foundation, Ignasi Miró; the director of CosmoCaixa, Valentí Farràs, and the scientific advisor of the space, the biologist and scientific photographer Rubén Duro, have presented this space dedicated exclusively to the exploration of a world that goes unnoticed, but which is not alien to us: the microscopic world.

In the Micrarium, located on floor -2 of CosmoCaixa, visitors will live a complete experience in which they will not only be observers, but also the protagonists of what they see through microscopes and other magnification systems, such as hand magnifying glasses or binocular magnifying glasses. It is a space of more than 300 square metres that is a pioneer in Spain and one of the few in Europe that allows visitors to see the microscopic world through experimentation.

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One of the materials that can be analysed in the Frontiers area.

The immersion begins in a first room that introduces visitors to the microscopic world so that they feel as if they have shrunk and can see the world through different eyes. By means of an audiovisual display on a large wraparound screen, visitors will be able to place themselves in real settings, such as a forest, a beach, an orchard or a jewellery workshop, in a way they have never done before: as if they were tiny beings who see the elements of these settings enlarged. They will be able to contemplate them in all their beauty.

Afterwards, through thematic areas that coincide with the storyline of the Universe Room at CosmoCaixa, they will delve into the nature of all kinds of materials, natural and artificial, organic and inorganic. All in a space conceived with an aesthetic reminiscent of a laboratory, allowing us to discover, for example, that the pink colour of flamingos is due to the small crustaceans they feed on, which in turn eat bacteria and red algae, or that a drop of water in a puddle contains millions of living beings, from green algae to protozoa that move at full speed or tiny animals, such as copepods.

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The Micrarium experience begins with an immersive video from the macroscopic world to the microscopic world in various scenarios.

In Kósmos, visitors will be able to see elements of the inert world, such as sand from a beach, minerals, meteorites or phenomena related to water or air. In Evolution I, they will observe non-visible elements of the living world, such as living protozoa, moulds, microalgae, bacteria or pollen, while in Evolution II they will see living beings to which we are more accustomed, such as insects, larvae, aquatic microinvertebrates or elements of our own body, such as skin or hair. Finally, in Frontiers they will delve into new materials created by humans as a result of scientific development, from mobile phone screens to clothing fibres, plastics or banknotes.

Throughout the whole experience, which will be carried out in groups of a maximum of 30 people, divided into the different areas, the figure of the educator is essential, who will help visitors to become passionate about the microscopic world and to discover for themselves what the world around us is really like, based on the samples that can be found in the Micrarium.

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The experience is adaptable according to the age of the participants.

Although it is permanent, one of the main features of the Micrarium is its great flexibility. The educators will adapt the discourse, the exhibits that can be seen and the time devoted to them according to the audience they receive at any given time. In addition, the exhibits will also vary over time, which will allow specific programmes to be designed on specific themes, always with the aim of demonstrating that the smallest things can be huge. The space is recommended for the general public, families and schoolchildren, from 3rd grade to high school.

The Micrarium is a real tribute to microscopes, which have been revolutionising the world of scientific research since their invention in 1590 and have also greatly influenced the field of education and scientific dissemination. These instruments, which have become indispensable allies of science, made it possible to describe cells, bacteria, red blood cells and the neuron structure of the nervous system, for example, for the first time.

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Experimentation is one of the bases of the new permanent space at CosmoCaixa.

Microscopes are fundamental in microbiology and other branches of medicine. They have also allowed us in recent decades to discover the qualities of graphene, a material so small that it is only visible through a microscope. The inventors of a new type of instrument, the super-resolution fluorescence microscope, which allows us to see cells on a nanomolecular scale, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014. Microscopes have evolved over the centuries. Their possibilities for revealing to us a world so small that it is unknown to us are infinite.

Easter activities 2022

The Micrarium opens for families and family audiences on 9 April, coinciding with Easter, which, as always, is full of novelties at CosmoCaixa.

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The workshops that take place in the Micrarium are always carried out with the indispensable figure of the educator.

On the one hand, the museum will host a new Planetarium programme, complementary to the Micrarium experience: the NanoCam. In addition, there will be guided and family visits to the brand new exhibition 'The Sun. Living with our star'. Dance and geology will also join forces to create a new workshop, ' At a geological rhythm', and the museum's Auditorium will host 'Geometry', a new show of music, poetry and dance that offers a plastic and emotional look at geometric figures. And not to be missed is the interactive exhibition dedicated to primitive devices that form part of the history of the printed image, 'Explora: Grafimatik'.