Founding Director of Science Gallery Dublin and CEO of Science Gallery International, Dr Michael John Gorman

By @SimonCocking

Really interesting interview with Michael John Gorman, the Founding Director of Science Gallery Dublin, who is now looking to develop galleries in eight countries worldwide as CEO of Science Gallery International

Visitors to a touring exhibition from the Dublin gallery, GAME in Russia


Visitors to a touring exhibition from Science Gallery Dublin in Russia 


How was 2014? Wins? Anything you’d have done differently?

2014 was a terrific year for Science Gallery International. We were delighted to announce the development of Science Gallery Bangalore in November, with wonderful partners including the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, the National Centre for Biological Sciences, and the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

We also made significant progress towards the development of a Science Gallery in Melbourne, in partnership with University of Melbourne. Science Gallery Dublin hosted its largest ever number of visitors, attracting 405,000 visitors, making it one of the top visitor attractions in the country, and Science Gallery London at King’s College London secured major capital funding and launched its first programme, FREQUENCIES, exploring the rhythms of the body at the interface of art and healthcare.

X section SGL March 2015

Artists impression of Science Gallery at King’s College London, due to open in 2017


Goals for 2015?

In 2015, key goals include progressing Science Gallery Melbourne, and progressing plans towards a Science Gallery in New York, as well as developing the digital platform for the network.

When you are selling the concept of the Science Gallery around the world, are they open to the idea of the open calls, and a range of contributors?

Yes, we are delighted that Science Gallery London has already implemented its first open call, for FOOD, its Summer programme. Open calls are a key part of the Science Gallery ethos, as they encourage surprising new ideas and projects to surface.

Visitors are transfixed by Fat Between 2 Worlds, a project investigating microhabitats by Juan M. Castro, part of HOME_SICK at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

Visitors to the current season at Science Gallery Dublin, HOME\SICK, which runs until 19th July. Details


How does the Science Gallery position itself to differ from MIT, Stanford and other institutions?

Science Gallery is not a university like MIT or Stanford – rather  it is more akin to a plug-in to a university, allowing leading universities to develop their third mission – public engagement and social impact. The model was pioneered by Trinity College Dublin and we always work in close collaboration with universities, for example King’s College London in London or Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Bangalore, Singapore, New York, London, a promising cross section so far. What’s a manageable rate of continued expansion?

Our goal is eight university-linked Science Galleries worldwide by 2020. It is an ambitious vision, but one which we believe is achievable. There are advantages to all to being part of a network – for example the opportunity to share travelling exhibitions, and co-develop exhibitions and events involving scientists and artists in multiple locations.

Great to have a Science Gallery in West Africa one day, South America? Is funding a constraint to locations like this?

For the initial eight galleries, we are not currently envisaging a gallery in Africa or South America. However we have had several approaches from these continents and it is always possible that after the eight we may plan to expand the network further after 2020.

Science Gallery looks to encourage the cross over between science and art. In your international role, does that often mean different things to the different countries?

I think each location has its own different take on bridging science and art. We are really hoping that each location will have a slightly different emphasis and focus – for example, Science Gallery London will have a strong emphasis on health and biomedical science, given its adjacency to Guy’s Hospital. Science Gallery Bangalore will have a strong emphasis on design, given the involvement of Srishti.  The exciting thing will be to see the different ideas and perspectives that emerge from each location.

Google have supported the development of the concept to expand the Science Gallery. It’s great to have them involved. Why do you think they are involved? I know they have a general love / support / interest, are there any particular outcomes they are interested in?

Google are deeply interested in science, and has embraced the idea of STEAM – adding the arts into the STEM disciplines, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I think for Google, Science Gallery plays a role in inspiring the next generation of innovators, who are able to move between art and science, between technology and design.

What show would you love to run, but haven’t been able to yet, for reasons of taste, logistics or otherwise?

We have a large number of ideas for exhibitions suggested by our Leonardo Group, a group of scientists, artists and entrepreneurs that help shape our projects. Some of these ideas are in the “fridge” and you may see them happen in 2016 or 2017, some are in the “freezer” and some are in the “recycling bin”. Of the ones we haven’t got around to yet in Dublin, I am keen on biomimicry as a theme, and on a show about the science of violence. I think a show called UNBORN exploring embryology could be pretty fascinating, but also very challenging to stage in Ireland – there are wonderful researchers working in this area. The Dublin team also laugh at me because I once really wanted to do a show about the art and science of hair. I’m pretty excited about some of the shows the London gallery has in the pipeline, but I am sworn to secrecy!

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