Science Gallery Melbourne opens to the public this June

Image of the front entrance of Science Gallery featuring the digital bricks
Digital bricks at the entrance to Science Gallery Melbourne. Image: Toby Welch

Science and art collide in a major new Australian gallery opening in June 2021.

Science Gallery Melbourne is the first and only Australian node in the internationally acclaimed Science Gallery Network. It will open a new state-of-the-art gallery in June, offering over 3500 square metres of exhibition space, a learning centre, a theatre, workshops and social spaces, designed to inspire young adults through art, science and innovation.

Since 2017 Science Gallery Melbourne has created exhibitions and programs in a series of disparate venues and pop-up sites around Melbourne – from a historical gymnasium to the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne, to an underground carpark, a shipping container, the Maribyrnong and Yarra rivers, and city laneways, streets and public gardens.

In June this year it will launch its own purpose-built gallery on the corner of Grattan and Swanston Streets, a gateway to the University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect innovation precinct, and a major new attraction delivering immersive, interactive exhibitions and events focused on the collision of art and science.

Director of Museums and Collections Rose Hiscock said the launch of the purpose-built museum is a major milestone.

“Science Gallery Melbourne provides a contemporary, playful and welcoming space for young people to explore issues, ideas and the great challenges of our time. As a new home for STEM engagement, we aim to show that anything is possible when science and art come together,” Ms Hiscock said.

Science Gallery Melbourne, designed by award-winning architect William Smart from Smart Design Studio, offers over 3500 square metres of flexible exhibition, event, education, laboratory, retail and theatre spaces, as well as social areas for collaboration and discussion.

It will include a STEM Centre of Excellence, a unique new learning centre for Victorian secondary students created under a partnership between the Victorian State Government and the University of Melbourne.

Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said that as a critical part of Melbourne Connect, Science Gallery Melbourne demonstrates an unwavering commitment to young people and their path to higher education and innovation.

“By bringing together science, innovation and creative thinking, we encourage conversations and ideas about the future of the Australian and global work force. The success of the Science Gallery model is measured by the rich, engaging learning environment that it offers young people,” Professor Maskell said.

Science Gallery Melbourne is part of the Science Gallery Network of museums embedded in universities around the world, with proven success at engaging 15-25-year-olds in STEM subjects and pathways – the key being the presentation of immersive, experimental and experiential exhibitions that blend scientific theory and new technologies with conceptual themes and creativity.

Science Gallery International CEO Dr Andrea Bandelli welcomed the opening of Science Gallery Melbourne.

“The Science Gallery Network enables universities to develop healthy, interdisciplinary narratives rooted in science and culture, advancing knowledge and empowering our participants to develop cultural and social agency. Science Gallery Melbourne is the most comprehensive embodiment of this approach to date and a magnificent international flagship for the Network,” Dr Bandelli said.

About Science Gallery Melbourne programs

SGM offers a changing program of exhibitions and events that showcase interdisciplinary practice and explore contemporary ideas.  The opening exhibition, MENTAL, curated with young adults for young adults, will feature 25 new projects and installations from local and international artists that question, challenge and confront societal bias about mental health, exploring the spectrum of experience and lived realities. A program of events including workshops, performance, discussion panels and public art activations will accompany the season.

Like previous exhibitions, which include BLOOD:  Attract & Repel in 2017, PERFECTION in 2018, and DISPOSABLE: Reimagining Your Waste in 2019, MENTAL: Head Inside will be part experiment, part exhibition – always thought provoking, sometimes humorous, and a place for exploring, participating and questioning.  Further details to come.

About the Science Gallery Melbourne First Nations Framework

The site of the new Science Gallery building in the Melbourne Connect precinct was the place of ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal for the local Aboriginal peoples and SGM aims to centre and highlight First Nations People in all of its programs exhibitions and events.  Together with INIDIGI LAB, SGM has developed a First Nations Framework, titled Nagaluri, that will guide and information engagement with and include important ideas and aspirations of First Nations Peoples.

Science Gallery Design

Science Gallery Melbourne will occupy 3,800 square metres within Melbourne Connect, including the corner of Grattan and Swanston streets.  Smart Design Studio were commissioned to activate the internal galleries within the building. The fit out design was inspired by the collision of science and art. Designed as a ‘living lab’, the gallery will act as the ‘front door’ to the innovation precinct. Whether encountered from within or viewed from the footpath from through generous double height windows, the Gallery has been designed to spark curiosity and interest. The gallery includes large-scale, flexible exhibition, event, education, laboratory, retail and theatre spaces as well as social areas for collaboration.

About the Digital Brick Entrance

The entrance to Science Gallery Melbourne features 226 phone-sized and touch-enabled screens located behind polished Venetian glass bricks, rendering the building fa├žade an ever changing canvas for digital data and interactive media. It is a complex piece of technology built as a result of a collaboration between engineering, research, technology, architecture and media. The project was led by Dr Niels Wouters. Collaborators include the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Connect and School of Computing and Information Systems, and external collaborators Arup, AVIT Integration Systems, Byrne Construction Systems, Lendlease, Light-Ctrl, Reelize Studio, Woods Bagot .

The debut content, titled the Digital Birthing Tree, draws on the University’s vast archives and collections material to uncover untold stories about the site, reimagine narratives of colonisation and pay homage to the Royal Women’s Hospital. The content piece was developed in consultation with the University’s many Indigenous advisory groups and spearheaded by Susie Anderson.

About Melbourne Connect

Powered by the University of Melbourne in partnership with a consortium led by Lendlease, Melbourne Connect brings together world-class researchers, startups, government, corporates, industry, higher-degree students, artists and Science Gallery Melbourne in a purpose-built precinct located on the former Royal Women’s Hospital site at the intersection of Swanston and Grattan Streets and next to the Parkville campus. Designed to become a digital and data powerhouse with a focus on emerging technologies it will bring together brilliant minds to help tackle some of the most pressing future challenges.

Designed by internationally acclaimed architectural firms Woods Bagot and Hayball, with landscape design by Aspect Studios, the 75,800sqm precinct features a series of interconnecting buildings arranged around a central landscaped open space known as Womin Djerring (Come Together). The University’s fit-outs within the precinct were designed by Hassell, Architectus and Smart Design Studio.

Visit www.melbconnect.com.au

About the Science Gallery Network

Science Gallery Melbourne is part of the Science Gallery Network, the world’s only university network dedicated to public engagement with art and science, pioneered by Trinity College Dublin. Bringing science, art, technology and design together, Science Gallery aims to ignite a passion in young people for new ideas and areas of study that can help to guide their career and educational choice, equipping them with resilience, empathy and ethical understanding to thrive in the knowledge economy.

The University of Melbourne secured the rights to Australia’s only node in the highly successful Science Gallery Network providing a framework to address Australia’s urgent issues regarding the STEM workforce.  There are currently eight similar galleries located in Dublin, London, Melbourne, Bangalore, Venice, Rotterdam, Detroit, and Atlanta.

The development of the Network is overseen by Science Gallery International, the non-profit organization that provides the services, tools and resources to power and expand the network, enabling a truly global learning experience for university faculty, students and researchers and the local community.

The first Science Gallery was launched in Dublin and its three million visitors to date have made it one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations. Its success is reflected in academic outcomes: 10 per cent of Trinity College Dublin students cite Science Gallery as their reason for enrolling.

About STEM in Australia

Approximately 75 per cent of the fastest growing jobs in Australia require Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills but there is declining interest in STEM at the secondary and tertiary education levels. This is translating to an ongoing STEM skill shortage. Furthermore, only six per cent of students studying VCE level advanced Maths are female. STEM skills are integral to Australia; driving significant economic output as STEM occupations are projected to grow by 10.8 per cent by 2023.

About STEM Centre of ExcellenceDelivered in partnership with the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Government, the STEM Centre of Excellence at Science Gallery Melbourne investigates the collision of art and science. Embracing scientific and artistic inquiry alike, our programs foster development of transferable 21st century skills and explore design thinking programs through a creative lens.

About the University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne is a global leader in higher education where brilliant minds come together to address important questions and tackle grand challenges.We equip our students with a future-facing education personalised around their ambitions, enriched by global perspectives and embedded in a collaborative research culture. As active citizens and future leaders, they represent our greatest contribution to the world.We engage our communities to ensure that education and research is inspired by need and for the benefit of society. In this, we remain true to our purpose and will fulfil our mission as a public-spirited institution dedicated to the principles of fairness, equality and excellence in everything we do.

About Science Gallery Melbourne’s Partners

Science Gallery Melbourne works in partnership with donors and industry supporters to push the boundaries of innovation and provide inspiring opportunities for young people in Australia. Science Gallery’s partners believe in our vision, enhance our purpose and are excited by innovation and creativity. Special thanks to our transformational partners – Peter and Ruth McMullin, whose leadership inspired Science Gallery Melbourne, and major partners: The Hugh Williamson Foundation, PACCAR, DCF Property, BASF Australia, Toyota and VicHealth.