Trinity College Dublin has set out plans to reopen the Science Gallery next year after its closure last February, reversing a contentious move that prompted criticism of the university in the scientific community.
Although Trinity is working on the basis that the gallery will open its doors again next summer with a new exhibition, little detail was provided in an email on Monday to staff from dean of development professor Gerard McHugh.
Trinity provost Linda Doyle has issued a call for tenders to develop a new operating model for the gallery, a key step in the preparations for a reopening, Dr McHugh said.
In the tender notice, the university said it wanted to work in partnership with an external party for a 12-month period in the first instance to reopen the gallery.
“The external party will work with Trinity to design an outline programme of exhibitions for the period 2023 through 2028, prepare a comprehensive business plan to support the outline programme, work with Trinity to secure external funding for that programme, and deliver the first exhibition in summer/autumn 2023.”
The gallery at Pearse Street had accumulated a deficit of €2 million before its closure. The university has been exploring how it might “reimagine” the gallery with a “very different” operating and funding model, Dr McHugh’s email said.
Although the Government pledged support for the gallery after the decision in 2021 to close it, Taoiseach Micheál Martin later said the university “needs to do work” to develop a new vision and sustainable financial model.
According to Dr McHugh’s email, the university continues to engage with the Government on the proposed funding structure.
“The provost advised the board [on November 16th] that [the] college intended to issue a public tender seeking expressions of interest from cultural entities, experienced in delivering STEM-themed public engagement activities, to work in partnership with Trinity to design and implement a new operating model for Science Gallery Dublin,” said Dr McHugh.
“We expect to evaluate submissions and appoint a partner to work with us before the end of this year. All going well, we anticipate that Science Gallery Dublin will reopen with an exhibition in the summer of next year.”
In the Dáil in January, Mr Martin said the departments of higher education and arts had offered to provide funding “for a number of years” to develop a sustainable financial model for the gallery.
“Trinity College Dublin needs to do work to develop what a new vision and a sustainable financial model for the long-term future of the Science Gallery is,” the Taoiseach said in January.