Follow Us on Twitter

Wonder: Art and Science on the Brain - Barbican

Event preview

RUBY Wax talking about her battle with depression and the research that it has inspired. Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy and DJ James Holden exploring consciousness through an audiovisual spectacular. A theatrical recreation of a 19th-century Parisian debating salon. A brain-inspired flashmob dance.

These are just some of the highlights in a packed programme of events that put the growing relationship between the arts and neuroscience under the microscope.

The Barbican and the Wellcome Trust, two leading organisations in the worlds of art and science, have announced the full programme for Wonder: Art and Science on the Brain (March 2 to April 10, 2013), which will see the public, artists and neuroscientists rub shoulders – and minds – to explore the inner workings of the brain, our most complex organ.

The season has been inspired by the British Neuroscience Association’s Festival of Neuroscience, to be held at the Barbican in April, a scientific conference of some of the greatest minds in brain research from across the globe. The Wonder season will feature films, music, theatre, talks and participation, and a wealth of hands-on experiments for all ages.

Visitors can explore the relationships between the city and their brains, find out how urban living drives impulsive behaviour and see what impact our 24/7 culture has on our sleep patterns.

Neuroscientists will compete against each other to win over the hearts and minds of the public in a special live version of I’m a Neuroscientist, Get Me Out of Here (April 9, 2013). Illusions, experiments, arts, theatre and game play will dominate the Barbican Foyers at both the Barbican Weekender (March 2 and 3) and Wonder: Street Fair (April 7-9) and a special brain-themed flashmob will explore the role of dance in mood and emotion.

A season of neuroscience on film will include a special screening of 1958 B-movie cult favourite Fiend Without a Face alongside classics such as The Manchurian Candidate (April 8) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (March 2) and the Turner-prize nominated portrait of RD Laing, All Divided Selves (April 8).

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican, said:

“The relationship between art and science is nearly as complex and intricate as the brain itself. This season provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the brain and how it relates to the many strands of human creativity. Through a fascinating selection of events, talks and activities, there will be plenty to wonder at.”

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, said:

“As humans, we have an enduring fascination with the brain and how it makes us ‘us’, individual and unique. How much can we learn about its inner workings from art and science? Having so many great neuroscientists at one of the UK’s best-loved cultural venues is an opportunity not to be missed: we are delighted to be supporting such a strong programme of events that will allow artists, scientists and the public to learn from each other as we explore the brain.”

The full programme of events and information on how to buy tickets can be found at