Science Gallery to spawn its innovative formula in London, with new €8.2m funding

3 Jul 2013

Michael John Gorman, director, Science Gallery Dublin

It’s been a good few weeks for Science Gallery. Just two weeks ago, Science Gallery Dublin gleaned €2m in funding as it celebrated five years of opening up the wonder of science to the masses through mediums such as art and magic. Now, in having worked with Science Gallery International, King’s College London has garnered a €8.2m (stg£7m) investment for the establishment of a Science Gallery in London.

This latest investment had been in the works for awhile. Last July at the Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin, Science Gallery’s director Michael John Gorman, along with representatives from King’s College London and John Herlihy, head of Google Ireland, held a press event to signal the goal of bringing the Science Gallery’s art and science innovation model to the world, in cities such as London and Bangalore, India.

Now, Science Gallery International, the Irish charity established to create a global network based on the model pioneered at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), announced King’s College London has secured funding for a Science Gallery in that city.

Founding supporters of Science Gallery at TCD, Wellcome Trust, have confirmed funding of stg£3m for the London gallery, while medical charity Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity will give stg£4m towards the new Science Gallery at King’s College London.

Science Gallery at King’s College London will be part of the global Science Gallery network. The aim is to create a network of galleries in partnership with leading universities in urban centres worldwide before 2020. In 2011, gifted Dublin Science Gallery with €1m to get this process off the ground.

Where will the London Science Gallery be sited?

A potential site of 2,000sq metres in London Bridge, at the corner of Great Maze Pond and St Thomas Street, opposite The Shard, has been identified for a space that will include exhibition galleries, a theatre, café, courtyard and informal meeting spaces, as plans are progressed to open London’s newest creative space.  

The gallery aims to generate and host exhibitions, events, performances and festivals. As with the Dublin gallery, the goal will be to bring science, technology and health into dialogue with the arts and design in an unprecedented way.

The director of Science Gallery at King’s College London will be Dr Daniel Glaser. He comes from a neuroscience background, was the first ‘scientist in residence’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), and has presented a television series for the BBC.

The gallery will aim to be a flagship project for culture at King’s under the leadership of Deborah Bull, director of Cultural Partnerships at King’s College London. She was previously creative director of London’s Royal Opera House.

Science Gallery Dublin

Artist’s impression by LTS Architects & Designers depicting Science Gallery London

Interface between science, healthcare and the arts

Commenting on the expansion of the Science Gallery in London, Dublin-based Gorman, who is CEO of Science Gallery International, said it was a clear signal of the value this “world-leading university” places on a creative approach to public engagement and innovation within science, health and the arts.

“We are delighted that with the transformative support of Wellcome Trust and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the gallery can be developed as a dynamic public platform for innovation, engagement and debate at the interface between science, healthcare and the arts drawing on a vibrant local community,” said Gorman.

“We look forward to sharing ideas, projects and approaches between the galleries at TCD, King’s College London and future members of the emerging Global Science Gallery Network as we work together to inspire and enable 15-25-year-olds to become the innovators of the future,” he added.

Developing a ‘distinctive’ offering – Bull

Bull said today’s funding news represents a significant step towards the opening of a Science Gallery at King’s College London.

“We have appointed an outstanding director in Daniel Glaser and we look forward to working closely with Michael John Gorman and his team in Dublin as we develop our own distinctive offering within the global Science Gallery network.

“Culture has a key role to play in driving innovation across King’s College London, offering new opportunities to academics, researchers and students, widening participation and engaging a broad and more diverse public with the college and this initiative,” she said.  

Science Gallery – already a cultural hub in Dublin

Since it opened in 2008, more than 1.3m people have visited Science Gallery Dublin. This means the gallery has been ranked amongst the top 10 free cultural attractions in Ireland.

On 20 June, Science Gallery received a welcome boost when it got a fresh €2m investment from Wellcome Trust and ICON Plc. At the time, Gorman said Science Gallery would aim to become the world’s leading organisation for “involving, inspiring and transforming curious minds through science” over the next five years.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic