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King’s College Welcomes Science Gallery London

Science Gallery London is a new arts space opened by King’s College London on the 21st September. The gallery’s inaugural season, Hooked, aims to ‘explore the cyclical processes of addiction and recovery’ and will showcase cutting-edge scientific research at the College through the work of leading artists in an interdisciplinary partnership.

Photo: LTS Architects

Located opposite Guy’s campus chapel, the gallery has already improved the state of the courtyard, helping open up part of the College’s outdoor space to the public. Its bright, airy and modern spaces at the corner of St. Thomas Street and Great Maze Pond provide a welcome addition to the bustling London Bridge area.

Hooked will investigate urgent issues surrounding addiction and recovery. It hopes to foster meaningful dialogue on the nature of addiction in the modern world through a close relationship with the student body.

The gallery’s marketing and communications officer, Rhianon Davies, gave Roar a tour of the space and a short interview:

How do you see the student body at King’s interacting with the museum once it’s up and running?

The student body is really important to us. We want all of them to come and visit the gallery. Some of them are already involved now as mediators, which is what we call our visitor assistants. They are an interesting prospect in that they’re not your standard gallery assistants. They’re there to interact and have conversations. We also welcome students coming in as visitors to engage with and debate about the theme currently on. We want to make sure students feel like this gallery belongs to them.

All the events for Hooked are free so they can come in and take part whenever. Tickets for our events are easily available on our website. We hope there’s something interesting for you whether you’re a humanities or a science student.

Another thing that’s open to King’s students is our Young Leaders programme. They are curating a youth weekender festival at the moment and that’s a rolling programme for people between 15-25 who live, work or study in Southwark/Lambeth and/or King’s.

The gallery really prides itself on its interactivity and ability to host live experiments, can you tell me a little bit more about that?

For this particular exhibition, we’ve got interactive artworks and there’s a show that utilises virtual reality. We also have experiments as part of the events programme. During the opening weekend, we’re doing ‘experimental espressos’, which tests the effects of caffeine, so that’s going to be a real, scientific experiment involving the public.  

We also have an international open call platform for the gallery. This means anyone can put forward an idea that might be accepted as part of an exhibition. They could be ideas that are physically existing or just in your imagination for the time being, and we’re more than happy for King’s students or anyone else to pitch their ideas and help curate our exhibits. In fact, we’ve just closed our open calls for the Anxiety season later next year.

The Gallery has no permanent exhibit or collection, what do you think the appeal of this is?

It means we can be quite a future facing art space, we’re looking at topics that are pressing for young people and thinking about what really resonates with them. It forces us to be quite current. Most galleries and museums have historic collections and that’s where the appeal of a permanent collection comes in. But the way this gallery is run means every visit is different. An exhibit lasts on average four months with one exhibit on at a time.

Before this main space established itself you organised pop-up exhibitions such as Blood: Life Uncut, how do you think that’s helped you prepare for this space?


I think they set the scene for what we’re about as a gallery and the kind of thing to expect. The work we display aims to question things and aren’t afraid to challenge opinions.

The Science Gallery in London is part of global network of other galleries in places like Dublin, Melbourne and Bengaluru. Can we expect any global collaboration?


Dublin is the first science gallery set up over 10 years ago. Its success meant Science Gallery International was set up. We’re the second gallery to open with a permanent space and the others will follow afterwards. We’re linked but we are independent. We’re able to commission our own exhibitions but at the same time, it’s great to be able to collaborate. Our Blood exhibition had artworks that were shared internationally. There’s nothing set in stone just yet but it’s something we’re excited to initiate.


How did you decide on making the Hooked exhibit the inaugural one?


We have consultations with young people to make sure the subject matter is important to them. We also look at them on the strength of the research at King’s because we want to be able to highlight the fantastic work going on here.


What’s the long-term goal for the gallery in terms of its collaboration with King’s and its presence in the city?


Our general target is to try and get around 250,000-300,000 visitors a year. We want to continue collaborations between artists and scientists and be able to help pair them up, as well as allow the forefront of the College’s research to be made accessible to the public. We want to be a space that young people feel like they can come and learn and challenge things. Eventually, we’ll be up there with the Tate hopefully as a space to visit! We want to be the go-to place for interdisciplinary works on display.

The Science Gallery opens on the 21st September and the exhibition is free for all to visit. Please visit the Science Gallery website for more details. Special thanks to Rhianon Davies. 

Cover Photo: Olivia Locher


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