Trinity and Government in talks over Science Gallery closure

Jamie Mc Carron 

Science Gallery Dublin

Government officials met with Trinity College on Tuesday in an attempt to stop the closure of the university’s popular Science Gallery on Pearse Street.

Shortly after reopening after the pandemic, staff were told last Thursday  that the gallery would close at the end of next February.

Representatives of Trinity College are reported to have met with members of the Department for Further and Higher Education, as well as from the Department of Arts which provides annual funding  to the gallery.

A spokesperson from the Department for Further and Higher Education told the Irish Times that it “continues to engage with Government colleagues and Trinity College on this matter.”

Since opening in 2008 the gallery has hosted 43 exhibitions on subjects from light to human evolution.

‘Bias’ is planned to be one of the gallery’s final exhibits, an examination of  “how prejudice can move quickly from human to machine as algorithms and artificial intelligence systems are encoded by humans with very human values, preferences and predispositions.”

Trinity’s announcement to close the gallery for financial reasons was met with an outcry from students and staff of the university, as well as former visitors and members of the arts and science communities.

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, according to the Irish Times.

The gallery also receives funding of approximately €280,000 a year from the Department of Arts.

The gallery, as described as a nonprofit on its website, has reportedly been losing money for the past several years and is estimated by Trinity to have a deficit of €2 millionby 2022.

Trinity’s board of governance have said that the Science Gallery “cannot continue to sustain these losses” and that it can only survive “through securing sufficient funding from government”.

Reacting to news of the gallery’s closure, it’s The Science Gallery’s  first chairman, Chris Horn, expressed “extreme disappointment” at the decision.

In a Tweet, another early contributor, Prof Aoife McLysaght, called the decision an “awful mistake.”

The Science Gallery is part of Science Gallery International, an organization involving seven other universities in Berlin, London, Melbourne, Atlanta, Rotterdam, Detroit and Bengaluru.

In 2020 Trinity made payments of €254,825 to SGI and received €183,350 for services provided to SGI.

Dr Patrick Prendergast, Trinity’s former Provost, is the chairman of Science Gallery International, and said the closure would be a “terrible loss” to Dublin.

Jamie Mc Carron

Image Credit: Science Gallery Dublin