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Design team appointed for Wonderlab

De Matos Ryan has been appointed lead designer for the National Railway Museum’s new interactive ‘Wonderlab’ gallery.

The £5m engineering-focused gallery will inspire young people to become problem-solvers and innovators of the future.

The practice, which is currently working on the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in east London, was selected ahead of Hayhurst & Co, Dutch practice Opera Amsterdam, London based Studio C102, and Tate Harmer.

Wonderlab will be constructed on the site of the current Workshop and will feature up to 25 interactive exhibits with a rail engineering theme.

Charlotte Kingston, Head of Interpretation and Design at the National Railway Museum, said:

“The jury was impressed by the practice’s initial concept and proposals which made use of the height and the natural light as well as showing an understanding of the museum’s engineering heritage. We are aware that outside the industry, many people do not see engineering and science as something that is for them—we hope to break down these barriers by making the space welcoming and accessible to all.’

Wonderlab at the National Railway Museum hopes to help reduce the shortfall of workers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by showcasing the inventiveness and ingenuity of engineering. It follows the success of two STEM-focused interactive galleries at the Science Museum and National Science and Media Museum.

Due to be completed in 2022, Wonderlab will be one of the first projects delivered in York for the National Railway Museum’s £55m masterplan project, Vision 2025. This ambitious redevelopment will see the entire museum transformed in time for the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the National Railway Museum’s 50th birthday in 2025.

Jose Esteves De Matos, Partner at De Matos Ryan, said:

“We are delighted to be selected to design the new Wonderlab gallery for the National Railway Museum in York and are very much looking forward to exploring the opportunities offered by this unique project and site. The new Wonderlab vision will excite, inspire and challenge young minds, bringing to the fore an awareness in sustainability and energy use. Our design approach will explore the concept of ‘Motion’ in its different forms as evoked by railway engineering.”

As part of the project, a new purpose-built workshop will be created on site to replace the current Workshop.

The museum has been showcasing the initial interactive exhibit concepts for Wonderlab to its corporate partners through a series of free online webinars. It is now extending these out to other organisations who are interested in supporting this project.

The announcement of De Matos Ryan’s selection follows news that the museum has chosen to work with Feilden Fowles to design its £16.5m Central Hall and that they are one of only 12 organisations to be shortlisted for the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Horizon Awards.


For more information, please contact:

Simon Baylis, PR & Press Manager
01904 686 299

About the National Railway Museum

  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 750,000 visitors per year.
  • The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals as well as railway uniform and costume, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs.
  • The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion in Shildon.
  • Admission to the National Railway Museum is free, for more information visit:


About  De Matos Ryan

  • Headed by partners José Esteves de Matos and Angus Morrogh-Ryan, De Matos Ryan combines expertise in architecture, interiors and exhibition design to create stimulating, imaginative and well detailed modern environments, producing work on a variety of scales.
  • The practice has developed a strong reputation in delivering beautifully detailed, rigorous and contemporary work set within historic and often culturally sensitive contexts.
  • For more information visit

Part of the Science Museum Group