University’s environmental exhibition and events in Centenary Square are a breath of fresh air

A new programme of exhibitions, activities and events exploring the relationships between people, the environment and air quality is being launched in Birmingham’s Centenary Square.

Bringing together cutting-edge research from across the University of Birmingham, The Air We Breathe will allow people to engage with researchers, scientists, artists, and thinkers from the university and beyond during a line-up of activities and events running until June 2022.

The Air We Breathe is being hosted at The Exchange, the University of Birmingham’s new city centre presence in Centenary Square. Featuring such sights as a hydrogen train and a sci-fi forest, the exhibition allows people to discover the work being done by the University of Birmingham to deliver clean air both here in Birmingham and around the world.

The Air We Breathe exhibition is open Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm with a late opening on Wednesdays until 8pm. Admission is free.

Everyday activities such as cleaning can contribute to indoor air pollution and common household products such as cleaning sprays may contain harmful chemicals that pollute the air. A natural cleaning workshop on Saturday, October 16 (£5/3, booking essential) will teach people how to make simple, cheap cleaning products that smell delicious and are kind to the Earth from just a handful of natural ingredients.

Families are invited to The Exchange this October for Hydrogen Half Term (Monday October 25-Friday October 29). They will meet the team behind HydroFLEX, the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, and enjoy immersive storytelling from award-winning storyteller Anna Conomos (free, booking recommended).

While the leaders of the world meet in the UK for COP26, The Air We Breathe will be hosting Late Night Exchange: COP26 on Tuesday, November 9 – an evening of expert insight, passionate discussion and personal reflection on the global and local threats of climate change (free, booking recommended).

Nothing says Christmas like sparkle. But glittery wrapping paper, tinsel, baubles and crackers are all made of plastic which breaks down over time to form micro and then nano-plastics, which we breathe in, eat and release to the environment. Artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood will be inviting people to join her to make their own Christmas wrapping paper using environmentally friendly materials on Saturday, November 20 (£5/3, booking essential).

A spokesman for the University of Birmingham said that the Exchange had been set up to bring together the university’s research, teaching and networks to create a place of curiosity, celebration, collaboration and change.

“Through free public exhibitions and community engagement programmes our ambition is to enable people from the city and wider region to get involved in the university’s work to address the complex challenges of our time,” he added.

Westside BID Media Manager Luisa Huggins attended a talk about perceptions of pollution at The Exchange on September 13, hosted by Dr Malcolm Dick, as part of The Air We Breathe.

Miss Huggins said, “This is a great programme, and we are pleased to have to have it centred in the Westside district. It is a great campaign and we are proud to support our colleagues at The Exchange.”

For more information about the activities and events programme organised during The Air We Breathe, visit

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