Trinity College to close Science Gallery on Dublin campus

Staff informed of decision Thursday with gallery expected to close for good in February

Biomedical student Jessica Okpeaye and Jennifer MacNeill at the Science Gallery. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Biomedical student Jessica Okpeaye and Jennifer MacNeill at the Science Gallery. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Trinity College has decided to close the Science Gallery on Pearse Street in Dublin. The university declined to comment on the move but it is understood that staff were informed of the decision this afternoon.

The gallery effectively reopened from Covid-19 lockdown restrictions with an exhibition called Bias, which opened on October 22nd. It is described as an “interactive, thought-provoking exploration of preferences, prejudices and digital equity” and is due to run until February 28th, when the gallery is expected to close for good.

First opened in 2008, the 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. It has been a venue for exhibitions and lectures on science and technology.

The gallery’s cafe was also a popular meeting spot for students, academics and locals, and it also operated a shop. The cafe and shop are both currently closed.

Financial statements

Trinity’s financial statements for the year to the end of September 2020 show the gallery earned income of €552,000, down from €592,000 a year earlier.

A team of 16 is listed on the website, led by acting director Gerard McHugh.

The venue was also part of Science Gallery International (SGI), a related entity that involved galleries in seven other locations – Atlanta, Berlin, Bengaluru, Detroit, London, Melbourne and Rotterdam – around the world. Last year Trinity made payments of €254,825 to SGI and received €183,350 for services provided to SGI.

The gallery’s first chairman was successful entrepreneur and Irish Times columnist Chris Horn. When asked for his reaction to news of the closure, Mr Horn said: “It is one of extreme disappointment. The Science Gallery’s mission was to encourage uptake of science and engineering as career opportunities for teenagers, by encouraging science and engineering academics, graduates and postgraduates to engage with the public about their work and enthusiasm.

“Some have become quite well-known as a result – Prof Luke O’Neill and Prof Aoife McLysaght being examples. The gallery has done much to raise Trinity College, and indeed Ireland’s profile worldwide, as a place of innovation.”

In a post on Twitter, Prof McLysaght expressed her disappointment: “I’m really sorry to hear this. I was heavily involved in the Science Gallery for its first five years and I always thought it was amazing. It spawned Science Galleries around the world all trying to emulate our success. Closing it seems like an awful mistake.”