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Belfast's museum in disguise


Museum Shop
Odyssey Pavilion
Odyssey Arena
W5 is a very enigmatic name; just one letter and one number, with no clues as to what they stand for, or what kind of place they represent. Actually, this is a museum, but that too is misleading. This isn't like any museum you've been to before, or any museum you're likely to go to in the future.
The subject is science, and the name actually stands for "who what when where why". These are basic, interesting questions, and while other exhibitions might attempt to explain the answers, W5 takes a different approach. They take science and throw it at you, letting you experience everything first-hand. The exhibits ping and pop and swish and bang in all directions, usually in ways you weren't quite expecting!
The building is divided into 4 different sections. The first is appropriately called "START", and it's aimed at younger visitors. They're actively encouraged to make both a noise and a mess, by repairing cars, playing instruments or shooting cannons. Alternatively, more responsible children can get a job at the role-play cafe.
In the "GO" section, everything moves. Objects are powered by gravity, magnetism or your own two hands. The exhibits within "SEE", meanwhile, conjure up all sorts of visual trickery. You'll make cartoons, edit photographs and light up a theatre. The final area is called "DO", and it's aimed at budding inventors. You can construct robots, or dive into virtual reality.

Photo Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Throughout all four sections, surprises lie in wait around every corner. Gadgets such as lie detectors and laser harps turn even the most serious adults into gleeful, fascinated children. There are around 200 exhibits altogether, and none of them could ever be described as boring. Along the way, you'll learn about how technology is helping to improve our planet, through ideas like solar power and wind turbines.
It takes a good few hours to see everything but, even when you've finished you can carry on investigating the world of science by bringing it home with you. The museum shop stocks a wide range of gadgets and construction projects, like home-made robots or DIY aeroplanes.
W5 is housed within The Odyssey, a huge arena and entertainment complex next to the harbour. It was built in 2000 as part of the UK's millennium celebrations, and has since become a key part of Belfast's brand-new "Titanic Quarter". The entire waterfront has been redeveloped into an ultra-modern shopping and residential destination, with just about everywhere offering wonderful views of Belfast Lough.
The biggest attraction is the Odyssey Arena, a top-tier events venue that hosts super-famous entertainers on national or international tours. As well as the musicians and comedians, there are regular ice hockey matches and exhibitions. With a capacity of 14,000, it's the second-biggest arena in Ireland. Next door, the Odyssey Pavilion is packed with fun things to do, from bowling alleys to cinema screens. There are also plenty of restaurants, where people tend to refuel after an exhausting visit to W5.

Odyssey Arena.
Photo Ross
Visitor Information
W5 is open daily, 10am to 5pm (till 6pm on Saurdays and 12pm to 6pm on Sundays). Entry costs around £8 for adults, £6 children. W5 at Odyssey, 2 Queen's Quay Belfast, BT3 9QQ, Tel: 028 9046 7700

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