Science Gallery to take curtain call if talks lead nowhere

24 Jan 2022

Image: Science Gallery

One of Dublin’s cultural institutions, Trinity’s Science Gallery may not be revived despite Government attempts over the last couple of months.

Despite months of backlash from the public, the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) may be set to close its doors for the last time on 28 February, dropping the curtain on one of the last such public spaces in the city centre.

In October, TCD announced that years of running on losses made it no longer financially viable to hold on to the non-profit Science Gallery – one of Dublin’s scientific and cultural highlights – and that it was to cease operations in February.

Future Human

The latest closure news was reported by The Business Post on Sunday (23 January). When approached by SiliconRepublic.com, Science Gallery declined to comment while TCD could not be reached.

An immediate public outcry in recent months from students, academics, scientists and even those not involved in science led to talks between TCD and the Government to find ways to help the beloved site back on its feet. As of 30 September, the total deficit accumulated by Science Gallery was €1.65m.

These deficits were blamed on “a sharp decline in grants and philanthropic income since 2017”, which was exacerbated by the pandemic’s effect on public in-person events. First opened in 2008 at the Naughton Institute, the gallery hosted exhibitions and events to promote science.

Talks between TCD provost Linda Doyle, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media are reported to have been unsuccessful.

However, the Irish Times reported on Monday (24 January) that there may still be hope. The publication understands that the Government has offered to provide the Science Gallery with funding for a number of years if TCD can come up with a sustainable long-term financial model for the bastion of science.

The Irish Times added that the Science Gallery will close when its current exhibition finishes at the end of the month, but could reopen at a later date if an agreement is made.

‘A loss of opportunities’

People in Dublin’s science and tech community have told SiliconRepublic.com of their disappointment that Science Gallery may not be revived. It now risks joining a list of cultural and heritage sites in Dublin that are being replaced by office buildings or hotels.

Vicky Twomey-Lee, a tech event organiser who has previously worked at the Science Gallery as a curator, said that the closure would mark “a loss of opportunities for those who want to share their love” for STEAM, or science, tech, engineering, art and maths.

“It was one of the most amazing places to meet people and a great proponent of advocating science and tech crossing boundaries with creativity like art and design, making topical subjects accessible in a fantastical space and amazing exhibitions,” she told SiliconRepublic.com.

Twomey-Lee, who is a community leader working towards increasing diversity in the tech sector, said that the Science Gallery is a place that “evokes conversation, sparks ideas, and pulls people from diverse backgrounds together”.

Maria Delaney, an investigative journalist at Noteworthy by Journal Media, said she worries that the Science Gallery closing its doors means that there will be “no permanent space for science in Dublin”.

“When it began, it gave those interested in science a home and enabled the growth of our community. It was where I first decided to write about science and first connected with our vibrant science communication community,” she told SiliconRepublic.com.

Delaney, who is hosting a ‘final response to Covid-19’ event in the gallery this week, said that even though she is looking forward to it, it will “be a sad one, given it will be my last one there”.

When asked about alternative locations that could potentially replace the Science Gallery for future events, Twomey-Lee pointed out the basement of the CHQ building, where the EPIC museum is located. “Unfortunately, I cannot think of any more as many large and accessible spaces for cultural institutions in the city centre have disappeared over the last number of years,” she said.

Updated, 8.30am, 25 January 2022: This article was updated to include details of the Irish Times report about potential Government funding for the Science Gallery.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com