Sunday 22, April 2018



A place for everyone to experiment in art & science…

In September 2015 through support from the Wellcome Trust through a People Award we began work on establishing ASCUS Lab the UK’s largest publicly accessible laboratory for experimentation in art & science. It is the generally understood that ‘A lab is somewhere you can’t go unless you’re a scientist’…well not anymore! It was this belief that a laboratory should be a facility accessible to everyone that led us to open our own at Summerhall in Edinburgh and it sits at the intersection of art and science.

This ambitious project has seen ASCUS renovating a disused lab in the former Royal Dick Vet School, bringing it back to life and today we run an year round programme of art-science events and workshops, training programmes and Open Sessions that see the lab open it’s door to anyone throughout the year.

The project is co-founded by Dr James Howie (director of ASCUS), Ms Lucy Stewart and research scientists in different areas of the School of Biological Sciences (and beyond) from the University of Edinburgh.

Our vision

We want to build a community of artists, designers, policymakers, scientists and the general public and create a trans-disciplinary space to produce, debate, create and carry out lab based experimentation and research and explore its role in the arts, sciences and in society in general. The space aims to interrogate the way science is produced, how the public is engaged and how artists and designers are represented.

The Lab creates a shared physical space for scientists, artists and the public to interact directly with the tools and ideas of science through doing and experimenting. It is a publicly accessible laboratory based at Summerhall and it is a space for experimentation in all the sciences with a particular focus on the life sciences dedicated to forging links to science, art and society. The lab is an energetic, productive environment for making, doing and learning, with core facilitation from on-site lab technicians.

The lab provides a supported environment for the development of independent and citizen science programmes with space and facilities for training in scientific equipment within a safe and custom environment.

Lab Resources and Facility
As the lab grows we are extremely keen to work with artists and researchers, from Scotland and beyond. To do this we depend on public engagement and project funding initiatives to enable us to develop creative and innovative ways to bring the arts and sciences to public audiences. Funding enables us is to take a thorough and considered approach to ensure that all our activities have a real impact on audiences across Scotland. Check out our lab facility page for more info about the resources, equipment, expertise, training and support we provide.
Hands-on Collaborative Workshops and Activities
For scientists we encourage and support collaboration with artists providing opportunities to co-develop creative workshops and activities for ‘hands-on’ public engagement with their research through a combined art-science approach. For artists we offer collaborative opportunities with scientists to co-create and co-deliver art-science workshops and activities that engage new and different audiences in creative activity. Check out the Artists, Scientists and Microscopy collaborative workshop that we ran in July 2016 to get a feel for what’s involved.
Skills Courses and Lab Open Sessions
For anyone that is new to lab work, we provide training through our own in-house skills courses. Check out our Microscopy for Beginners Course, the first in our skills courses programme that we will continue to develop, with a particular focus on Microscopy, Microbiology and DNA Analysis. Along with this we run weekly Open Sessions that provide access to the lab and it’s resources, in an independent and supported environment, so that anyone can develop their own lab based projects. Check out our lab open sessions page for more about what they are and scheduling info.
ASCUS Lab Community
We want the ASCUS Lab to be a place for independent research and experimentation, allowing anyone to conduct their own experiments. In short, the ASCUS Lab will be a community space for art and science experimentation, providing a facility for innovative, creative and fun methods of public engagement with the arts and sciences and allowing access for everyone to the specialist tools of science. Join our ASCUS Lab Community Facebook Group a public group for ASCUS Lab Community members to meet virtually, share ideas and relevant titbits.

ASCUS Lab was established with support from a Wellcome Trust People Award and through ongoing support from Summerhall