Harris tells Trinity College to come up with plan to save Science Gallery

Government has offered funding for a number of years to create sustainable model

The Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin could be rescued after the Government offered to provide it with funding for a number of years, but the college has been told it must come up with a sustainable long-term financial model for the facility, The Irish Times understands.

Trinity College last year informed the gallery’s 16 staff members of its decision to close the facility on Pearse Street due to unsustainable losses. However, once news of the closure plan was made public, the Government stepped in to see if it could be rescued.

Talks are ongoing, and it is understood the Department for Further and Higher Education, led by Simon Harris, and the Department of Arts, led by Catherine Martin, have offered to provide funding for a number of years to help keep the gallery open.

Funding

It is understood the funding does not involve a blank cheque and is on the table under the proviso that it would be used to help contribute towards a sustainable, long-term financial model for the Science Gallery.

Trinity College has been told it must work to develop what a new vision and financial model for the long-term future of the Science Gallery looks like. The Government is awaiting a submission from the university on these issues.

A spokeswoman for Trinity College said the university had no comment to make on Monday.

However, it is understood the Science Gallery will cease operations in its current form at the end of the month when its current exhibition, BIAS: Built This Way, draws to a close.

As it takes at least three months to plan a new exhibition, it is anticipated the facility will remain closed for a time. Staff contracts at the facility are also expiring soon. However, there remains hope on all sides that a resolution can be reached.

Losses recorded by the Science Gallery more than doubled to €568,924 in 2020, while its income declined by 22 per cent to €1.17 million, its latest accounts show.

The impact left the gallery with accumulated losses of €965,301 at the end of September 2020. The losses for the year were “in part due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the gallery’s operations”, with the costs underwritten by the college.

Deficit

As of September, 30th, 2021, the gallery had an accumulated deficit of €1.65 million due to a sharp decline in grants and philanthropic income since 2017.

In a note circulated to staff last year, Trinity College said that while there was “strong support” for the gallery to remain open the college could not continue to sustain the current rate of losses.

It added that the future of the gallery could only be secured with “sufficient funding from Government”.

Staff at the time said they had been told that for the gallery to be revived, Trinity and Science Gallery International – an international offshoot – would have to "develop an entirely new vision" for the facility and "base it on a much smaller number of staff".

First opened in 2008, the Science Gallery is described on its website as a “living experiment” that “ignites creativity and discovery where science and art collide” and encourages young people to learn through their interests.