AnNex Public Engagement

Below are some highlights from our Public Engagement Programme:

Engagement activities

Logo for the mouse exchange, featuring a crafted felt mouse

The Mouse Exchange is a public engagement activity where we invite small groups of members of the public to make a mouse” with researchers, using felt, wool and other craft materials. Throughout the 20 or so minutes we spend together participants can explore the origins of laboratory mice through conversation and interaction with objects.

It is a curiosity-driven activity that creates a space for participants to relate to laboratory mice differently. Across a number of events, it has inspired excitement and intrigue, as well as intimate and reflective conversations on the subject of animal research.

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Cartoon of an orange fish, based on the fortune-telling fish from a Christmas cracker

Find out how you really feel about fish! The psychic fish is an interactive encounter that invites people to think about fish and their use in research. Playing on the classic Fortune Teller Fish game were all familiar with from Christmas crackers, Psychic Fish reveals to participants their true” feelings about fish. Weve developed an online version of the game, which features a series of questions prompting people to reflect on what the Psychic Fish made them think about. 

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Logo of a blue tree in a hexagon, representing a fictional science facility called Biocore


Vector is an immersive theatre experience that tasks participants with ethically reviewing the use of animal models in vaccine development. Participants are welcomed into the world of Biocore, the ethical pharmaceutical company, who are keen to involve the public across their research pathways. Teams compete against each other to deliver the most ethical research proposal possible. 

Vector uses elements of performance, gameplay and integrated technology to allow participants to make decisions and react to their consequences, in an expanding narrative that spans across different aspects of the animal research nexus.

This work was developed with our creative partners The Lab Collective. Check back soon for the link to this project.

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The Work is an installation made of clay bricks and mice

The Work

Are research animals an invisible workforce within a city? Making a murine workforce from the same red clay that built Manchester as an industrial city, we were able to ask, what does it mean to be part of a community; to be shaped out of and work for it? How do we define who or what works for us and what work do we allow to be visible choose to keep discreet? How do our levels of comfort and understanding of particular work and workers shape how we value and acknowledge contributions to our environment and our lives?

This work was develop in partnership with our creative partner Rob Hopper. Check back soon for the link to this project.

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Image of pill packets

This engagement activity invites people to draw a label which could be used to denote the role of animal research in the production of medicines. Our aim was to use the hypothetical idea of labelling in order to open up questions about animal research, and about potential futures.

The activity provokes challenging questions such as: What could an animal research label look like? If such a label were rolled out, what would be the societal consequences? And how can collaboration with artists encourage new and fruitful discussions about animal research?

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Relevant, tagged site content:

Blog entry

Written by: Reuben Message, Beth Greenhough, Bentley Crudgington

We’ve created a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ version of our favourite fish – the AnNex Psychic Fish.

Written by: Reuben Message

In our work on the cultures of care and communication in animal research, we often asked ourselves the question: why are fish not the ‘poster critters’ of animal research? 

Written by: Ally Palmer, Reuben Message, Beth Greenhough, Bentley Crudgington

How does how you feel about fish shape how fish get to feel?

Written by: Bentley Crudgington, Gail Davies

Vector is an interactive experience, which uses elements of performance, game, and integrated technology to open up dialogue about the ethical dilemmas of using animals as part of medical research.

Written by: Bentley Crudgington

When you build a world you have the luxury (and burden) of designing everything within it.

Written by: Renelle McGlacken

On the 21st May, Pru Hobson-West and I dipped our toes into public engagement around animal research at the Nottingham Pint of Science Festival 2019.

Written by: Bentley Crudgington, Emma Roe, Sara Peres

There is no qualitative research into public understanding of the origins of research animals, which is a particular area of interest for the Markets and Materials strand.

Written by: Bentley Crudgington

A directive of the Collaboration and Communication strand of the Animal Research Nexus is to produce dynamic pubic engagement activities that connect different pers

Written by: Ally Palmer, Reuben Message, Beth Greenhough, Bentley Crudgington

In the Species and Spaces project, we’re exploring people’s perceptions around fish use, sentience, and how these shape and define assumptions around their welfare requirements.

Written by: Renelle McGlacken, Tess Skidmore, Bentley Crudgington

Projects by Bentley 

At a previous meeting we were all asked to define what “nexus” meant to us. 

Written by: Rich Gorman, Bentley Crudgington, Gail Davies

The concept of openness is increasingly being used to drive change and shape debates around animal research. However, it is a complicated and nuanced concept, which can be both uniting and dividing in practice.

Written by: Reuben Message, Bentley Crudgington

The way we think about the welfare needs of animals is always conditioned by our prior experiences and preconceptions. This is especially true of fish.


How, why (and why not) are fish utilised as mascots in public engagement with animal research? 

Have you ever thought about the role that animals play in producing new medicines? Want to try a creative way of thinking about this topic?

Our ‘Psychic Fish’ intervention had another successful outing last Friday night at the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

Where do lab mice come from? Where do they end up? Joins us for crafting felt mice to exchange or take home. You can also explore the history, practices, and ideas of care involved in making laboratory mice.

Where do lab mice come from? Where do they end up? Joins us for crafting felt mice to exchange or take home. You can also explore the history, practices, and ideas of care involved in making laboratory mice.

Join researchers from the University of Southampton for a family day suitable for all ages.

“Hi. How are you?” This is a common greeting used to ask about health, but has anyone ever asked you; “did you come alone?” We’ll be exploring these questions in a short, interactive, one-on-one scenario.

Oxford University’s first Open Doors Community Fair, taking place in the Weston Library’s stunning Blackwell Hall in Broad Street on Saturday 10 September between 1pm and 4pm.

Take part in live experiments, chat to scientists and get hands-on with innovative activities based on cutting edge research in science, technology, engineering and maths.


Friday 28 September is European Researcher’s night, and for the fourth time Manchester Museum will be hosting Science Uncovered Manchester - a special late opening showcasing Manchester’s finest researchers and their work for an adult audience.

The workshop shall intoduce the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research, explaining its commitments, and the different exceptions around openness. 

A new virus is ravaging the planet, infecting animals and humans at a worrying rate; we welcome you to BioCore, a medical research facility tasked with managing this crisis and finding an immunisation to protect our planet.


The Mouse Exchange (Mx) is a curiosity-driven activity that explores the origins of laboratory mice through crafting and conversations. It forms part of the Public Engagement programme of the Animal Research Nexus.

This poster presents through provocations from our public engagement approach, which seek to weave in new perspectives, allow new communities to form and meaningfully connect, so we may collaboratively face emerging challenges for science and society together.


We are delighted to announce that Vector has been selected as a finalist for  Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year 2021 in the category Science Engagement. 

We are so delighted to announce that the Mouse Exchange has been recognised for its public engagement work by winning the 7th Annual Openness Awards, awarded by the Concorda

Project partners

Paul is an interdisciplinary researcher and artist, with an interest in nonhuman animals, performance and public engagement.

The Lab Collective create interactive, visceral live experiences; treading the line between theatre, game and installation, The Lab Collective empower the audience to collaborate in our performances.

The Medical Research Council’s Mary Lyon Centre (MLC) is located on the Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire.