Search Museum Next

Future of world’s first Science Gallery in Dublin hangs in the balance

Bias: Built This Away is the Science Gallery’s 50th free exhibition

The Science Gallery Dublin, which opened at Trinity College in 2008 as ‘a new space to ignite curiosity and discovery where science and art collide’ is facing closure over its financial viability.

Staff were told of plans to close the gallery in February 2022 at a meeting, which took place at the end of last week. There has been no official statement from Trinity although Provost and President Linda Doyle tweeted on Friday night that following a “really productive” phone call with Higher Education Minister Simon Harris they both agreed to sit down with other stakeholders this week to discuss the Science Gallery’s future.

More than three million visitors

More than three million visitors have attended since its opening and its touring offer has been seen by more than one million outside of Ireland.

The Science Gallery reopened for the first time on 22 October, after going into lockdown in March 2021, with its 50th free exhibition Bias: Built This Way, which is an interactive exploration of preferences, prejudices and digital equity. The exhibition interrogates fairness, the ethics of AI, machine learning and data processing in humans and algorithms.

Through the success of the Science Gallery Dublin, a Science Gallery Network was set up in 2012 to connect other university science galleries worldwide, which is managed by Science Gallery International (SGI).

Michael John Gorman, who was Founding Director of Science Gallery Dublin and CEO of SGI, said he was really shocked to hear the news of the closure and hear that the team were being made redundant.

A trailblazer

“Science Gallery has been a trailblazer in exploring alternative futures through creative collisions of science and art since it launched in 2008. The success of the Dublin gallery inspired the creation of university-linked Science Gallery spaces in London, Bangaluru, Melbourne, Venice, Rotterdam, Detroit, Atlanta and now Berlin,” said Michael John who is the Founding Director, Biotopia Munich, which he helped set up in 2016.

Michael John gave a talk at MuseumNext’s European Conference in Dublin in 2016 about building the global Science Gallery Network – with the Science Gallery being one of the venues – and again at our Sydney Conference in 2019.

“I had the great privilege of being Founding Director of Science Gallery Dublin, and of leading Science Gallery International before moving to Munich in 2016 to create Biotopia, our new museum for life sciences and environment.

Outpouring of public support

“It has been heartwarming to see the extraordinary outpouring of public support for Science Gallery and all the wonderful stories people have shared about the impact Science Gallery has had on their lives.

“Contact has been initiated between Ireland’s Minister of Higher Education Simon Harris and the Provost of Trinity College Dublin Linda Doyle to explore how to secure the gallery’s future, so perhaps all is not yet lost – let’s hope there might still be a chance to save the world’s first Science Gallery, at a time when creative engagement at the interface of science and art has never been more vital.”

An online petition demanding a solution was set up on Friday and has been signed by more than 3,250 supporters.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

Subscribe to the latest museum thinking

Fresh ideas from museums around the globe in your inbox each week