First-of-its-kind gallery brings science, art together

BENGALURU: The Science Gallery International is the world’s first university-linked network dedicated to public engagement with science and art. As part of its aim to establish galleries in various parts of the world, Science Gallery, Bengaluru is presently in the works in association with the Karnataka government. Others are also being developed in Australia, Italy and USA.
Jahnavi Phalkey, a historian of science and technology, author and a filmmaker formerly based at King’s College London was appointed the founding director of the Science Gallery, Bengaluru. City Express caught up with Jahnavi soon after her appointment.

What are your immediate and future plans as the head of the Science Gallery, Bengaluru?
First and foremost, I am working with the architects on the design of the Science Gallery building. It is important at this stage to ensure that we have an accessible structure, for an institution premised on conversation and collaboration.Once construction is on the way, I would like to focus on building the relationships that will shape this institution.This includes our academic partners but equally, other eminent science and art institutions in the city and beyond.

What do you intend to achieve through the Science Gallery?
Science Gallery will play the unique role of bringing together artists, and scholars from the human and natural sciences through research and conversation on questions of global concern. I am particularly keen on students learning alongside scholars through tinkering and experiments. Collectively, we will produce events and exhibitions to nurture a creative and critical appreciation of science – and its relationship to nature and culture – in Indian public life.

It is said that physical Science Gallery will open in 2021. What is the progress so far on this front?
We are working with excellent city based architects (CnT) who are finalising the design, and we will be releasing further details in due course. The founding partner for Science Gallery is the government of Karnataka who have generously provided the land and capital funds, and who will contribute to our operating costs once the gallery comes online.

What are the roles of IISc and Sristi School of Design as partners of the Science Gallery?
SGB’s lead academic partner is the Indian Institute of Science (IISc); the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and Srishti are collaborating partners. Together, they provide the expertise required for the very foundation of an institution like Science Gallery.

Your views on the relationship between science and art?
Good and discomforting questions lie at the root of both new science and new art.  If we are able to bring together people across disciplines and professions to think about questions of contemporary concern, they might each catalyse a rigour and expression in the other that will exceed what they could have otherwise accomplished on their own. This, if any, is the assumption upon which Science Gallery will be premised.

Is science awareness need of the hour?
Better awareness of science is required not only in India but in other parts of the world. As a historian of science, I have seen how robust histories of science and technology can contribute to generating awareness. More so, and this is why an experiment like Science Gallery is engagement with science and technology.We are confronted with concerns,  it is imperative that irrespective of our professional choices – we should all better understand the place of science and engineering in our lives!

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