At 27 metres in height and 40 metres in diameter, it’s about the size of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. A landmark by day and by night, the Globe stands out in the wine-growing countryside not far from Geneva. Its wooden structure constituting a symbol of sustainable development, the Globe sends a clear message on science, particle physics, cutting-edge technologies and their applications in everyday life.
The timber of the outer shell of the Globe of Science and Innovation began life as the main element of the Swiss Pavilion at the World Exhibition in Hanover in 2000, which was the work of architect P. Zumthor. It consisted in a quantity of wooden planks symbolizing sustainable development. Those planks were then transformed into the spherical openwork sections that form the outer shell of the present building, which was designed by T. Büchi and H. Dessimoz of Geneva for the Swiss National Exhibition Expo '02.
The building, which for Expo '02 was called the "Palais de L'Equilibre", was dedicated to the theme of sustainable development and welcomed 1.9 million visitors over the six months of the exhibition.
After Expo '02, the Swiss government requested proposals for long-term uses for the structure. CERN’s proposal to make the Globe a venue for the presentation of science, technology and industry to the general public, as well as for debates and exchanges on innovative technologies in partnership with private sector companies and public sector institutions, was chosen.
The Globe was rebuilt on the present site in 2004 and was first used on 19 October 2004 for the official celebrations marking the Fiftieth Anniversary of CERN.
Additional work on safety installations and thermal and sound insulation has been completed in the meantime.
The Globe has been open for limited access by the public since 16 September 2005.
A key element of CERN's communications strategy, this building is geared towards all the different members of the public who visit CERN. In 2007, it will house a permanent exhibition which will bring particle physics within the reach of all. The new technologies invented at CERN will feature prominently to help visitors to understand the influence that the physics of the 21st century has in their daily lives. The Globe already houses temporary exhibitions on the first floor. It is on this floor, with its spectacular domed ceiling of more than 12 metres in height, that CERN-specific events can be organised in collaboration with the Member States, professional bodies, industry and the general public.
Thus, the Globe will welcome temporary exhibitions, conferences, events, meetings and debates, all of which will serve to develop links between science, industry and society. There are numerous challenges at stake, including increasing young people's enthusiasm for science, improving the training of future scientists, informing and training teachers, enabling Europe’s citizens to participate in the furthering of knowledge, ensuring the scientific challenges of our era are understood, encouraging links between science and industry, promoting closer ties between countries and bringing together the pleasure of discovery with the sharing of knowledge.
By creating such a place for exchange, CERN has attracted the interest of numerous museums and scientific centres in Europe. In this field, the Organization is becoming a significant source of resources available to all.
A Club of the CERN partners for Science and Innovation enables professional bodies and industry to become partners in activities for all types of audiences, such as exhibitions, conferences and shows. Assistance provided within the framework of this privileged Club will allow new projects for exhibitions, buildings or spectacular stage sets to be realised. For example, as an addition to the Globe, a central building would in a few years time improve the experience offered to visitors, who for one hour or for half a day would have the opportunity to explore, visit and understand CERN and exchange and discuss ideas with its scientists and guides.
Only recently opened to the public, the Globe has already housed an exhibition dedicated to Georges Charpak, an exhibition entitled “100 years after Einstein”, a world première of the scientific opera “Kosmos”, the “Beyond Einstein” webcast, events, conferences, workshops, presentations and even two plays ("Signed Jules Verne” staged by the Mimescope theatre group and “Einstein in the Land of the Neutrinos”, a play written by a physicist).
The Globe of Science and Innovation is the responsibility of the CERN Communication Group, whose mandate is to “increase awareness of CERN's importance in the world while providing a large arena for interaction between science and society”.