I provide support to teams who are developing or updating exhibitions to engage public audiences with scientific themes. There are lots of ways this can work, from consultation on concept and format to detailed content research and curation.
My introduction to public engagement was at Science Gallery Dublin, a space that combines art, design, science, and the humanities to ask big questions about our world, our universe, our society, and ourselves. For me, this is one of the most exciting and collaborative ways to explore the role of science in society, and exhibitions are a core part of that process. In my role as Research Coordinator, I was the lead researcher on two major exhibitions, combining best practice models from the museum, public engagement, and arts sectors.
Here are some exhibition projects I’ve worked on recently:
Being Human at the Wellcome Collection
In 2017, I worked with curator Clare Barlow and the team at Wellcome Collection to develop an overview of relevant themes and topic for Being Human, a new permanent gallery that explores trust, identity and health in a changing world. Being Human opened in September 2019, and features 50 artworks and objects across four main sections: Genetics, Minds & Bodies, Infection, and Environmental Breakdown.
SEEING at Science Gallery Dublin
Is vision just one way to see? How do our brains interpret what’s in front of our eyes? How do machines understand what they’re looking at, and will they change how we look at the world?
SEEING tackles the complex sensory experience of vision and perception. A combination of artworks and experiments engaged visitors with themes like optics, perspective, and comprehension while exploring enhanced and augmented ways of seeing, artificial eyes, and radical alternatives to vision. It attracted 138,464 visitors in Dublin before touring internationally, and 93% of visitors said would recommend the exhibition to family and friends.
I was the Lead Researcher on the exhibition, developing the themes and narratives it explored, and working with the Exhibition Producer to coordinate commissioning of new work and new art-science collaboration.
TRAUMA at Science Gallery Dublin
How does trauma affect the brain, the body, the national psyche, or all three? How do buildings, bodies, artworks and stories record the traumas of our past? How do we bounce back after a trauma, and how is our understanding of trauma’s lasting effect changing?
TRAUMA is an exhibition at the boundary of rupture and recovery, featuring artworks and experiments that explore the biological, psychological, and societal aspects of trauma. The exhibition attracted 100,887 visitors in its three month run.
TRAUMA was produced at Science Gallery Dublin in 2015. I was the Lead Researcher on the exhibition, working with curators to develop the central themes and narratives, and working with the Exhibition Producer to coordinate commissioning of new work and new art-science collaborations.
Host at Science Gallery Dublin
‘Host’ reveals the complex community of bacteria that calls your body home — the microbiota. And right now, this community is a major focus for scientists studying the roles of nonpathogenic bacteria in our health. How do bacteria in our gut influence our brain? What makes humans such an attractive habitat for mircoorganisms, and why is that a good thing?
‘Host’ is an installation developed for the HOME\SICK exhibition at Science Gallery Dublin. Visitors were invited to swab their bellybutton — used by researchers as a consistent collection point for our skin’s microbial communities — streak it on an agar plate, and to come back a few days later to see how their single-cell tenants were getting on in their new, Petri dish home.