Operation of Trinity Science Gallery to be ‘reimagined’ after unsustainable losses

Students protest against closure of venue this weekend

Members of Students4Change, the TCD Students’ Union and others gathered for a rally in front of the Science Gallery in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Members of Students4Change, the TCD Students’ Union and others gathered for a rally in front of the Science Gallery in Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

Trinity College Dublin has said it is to “re-imagine” the future form of its Science Gallery after the impending closure this weekend sparked controversy.

University Provost Linda Doyle issued a statement to students and staff on Friday saying that while the “current operational model” of the museum had become unsustainable, it had a future.

But this did not dissuade a student protest outside its home on Dublin’s Pearse Street on Friday afternoon, during which Student Union officials decried the demise of an institution for apparently commercial reasons.

With a protest theme of “Dublin is dying”, they vowed to maintain pressure on the college to find an alternative, sustainable future for the gallery.

“For thousands of people, myself included, their first time stepping onto a college campus was through the Science Gallery and saying ‘oh actually, science could be for me’,” said Zoe Cummins, the students’ union Stem (science, technology, engineering and math) convener.

“It embeds a seed in the brain. For the rest of your secondary school life you think college could be for me. That might not seem like a great thing or a big thing but if that happens a thousand times over, that’s just so powerful.”

Student Gavin Duffy (20) said the Gallery had inspired him to pursue physics.

“It’s the reason that I’m here. And I’m sure many others in the years ahead of me, in my year and in the years behind me,” he said.

The gallery opened 14 years ago, housing many exhibitions in the promotion of science, but questions have arisen around its commercial viability.

It has experienced a sharp decline in grants and philanthropic backing in the last five years, and accumulated a deficit of €1.65 million as of last September.

Prof Doyle noted in her message to the college community that, with this substantial and growing debt, the Science Gallery faced insurmountable problems. “The current operational model has run its course,” she said.

The Dublin space is one of eight belonging to an international Science Gallery Network, also found in London, Melbourne, Bengaluru, Detroit, Rotterdam, Atlanta and Berlin. Across them, gallery teams collaborate on co-curated exhibitions and develop cooperative projects. Millions of visitors have passed through their doors.

Prof Doyle said the Dublin space “needs to be totally reimagined and work very differently from the way it does now. Closing the gallery affords us the time to address the problems and build a new, exciting and sustainable way forward.”

In recent months the university has been in contact with several Government departments on the issue of the future of the gallery, which first opened in 2008. Updates on what happens next are due to be released by Trinity College in the coming months.