Posted on behalf of Anthony King.
Dublin’s Science Gallery today launched a global network of galleries to take its model of science outreach around the world. Eight galleries will be created by 2020, joining with leading universities located in urban centres, as part of the Global Science Gallery Network. Their goal is to engage young adults with science, technology and innovation, with lively, interactive exhibitions.
The first of the network’s galleries outside Ireland will be located at King’s College London, director Michael John Gorman revealed today at the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF2012) meeting in Dublin. Galleries are also planned for Singapore, Bangalore and Moscow.
The Science Gallery, located at Trinity College Dublin, has been serving a cocktail of science, art and design since 2008 to a youthful crowd who might otherwise avoid any contact with science. It represents a new approach to encouraging public engagement in science, says Gorman. “We talk about it as a particle accelerator for people. We bring people together from different disciplines and collide them. Interesting ideas then emerge,” he says.
The gallery model is light years away from the traditional museums of old. There are no permanent shows or stands — instead, new exhibitions such as its current ‘Hack the City’ run for just a few months (read Nature’s review). The target audience is 15–25 years old, neophytes who are beginning to make decisions about their futures. Previous exhibitions have covered water sustainability and nutrition.
The plan is to develop the next gallery at the Guy’s Hospital campus of King’s College. “The campus is a buzzy area, highly pedestrianized and close to the Tate Modern. So just like in Dublin, it will be a bridge between the university and the city,” Gorman enthuses.
Ideas for exhibitions spring from 50 creative individuals who make up a ‘Leonardo group’. “We get scientists to collaborate with designers and artists,” Gorman added.
Scientists in Trinity College Dublin have set up their own labs inside the gallery during some of the exhibitions, such as a run of public psychology experiments. The gallery’s café has become a favourite meeting place for students, researchers and anyone else who strolls by, and exhibitions charge no entry fee.
The network will allow exhibitions designed in one city to go on global tours of its sister galleries. Dublin’s ‘Biorhythm: Music and the Body’ exhibition went to New York last summer, for example, and will hit Singapore later this year.
Luke O’Neill, an immunologist at Trinity, says that he was initially sceptical that art and science could mix in this way, but is now an enthusiastic convert. “We ran an exhibition called ‘Infectious’, and it convinced me this is the way to go. They were able to cleverly illustrate immunology and infectious disease. One example is that they had beautiful crystals of HIV and flu viruses, as works of art. That really catches people’s imaginations,” he says.