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Introduction

Speech given by the Governor at the opening of Science Gallery Melbourne, at The University of Melbourne

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First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we are gathering and pay my respects to their Elders past and present and to any Elders from other communities who might be with us this evening. And I would like to thank Stacie Piper for her warm Welcome to Country.

It’s an old marketing ploy to create a collectible that will draw the consumer to a particular product, primarily because she wants to collect the set.

In retrospect, Rose Hiscock, your Director of Museums and Collections, used that old trick on me. And it worked.

I came into this role in mid-2015. I met Rose, and was ‘introduced’ to The Science Gallery in early 2016.

As someone who had never felt at ease with science, (a position that now strikes me as ridiculous, having finally come to appreciate that it is all around me, within everything I see, do, eat, breathe and use), I listened to Rose’s description of this ‘project’, (which is all that it was back then), and immediately succumbed to her sublime skills of advocacy. 

Yes, of course, during an upcoming official visit to the UK, with technology as one of the particular areas of importance for Victoria – and education another – Yes Rose, I’d love to join you to meet with the team and to tour the site of London’s Science Gallery – and yes – to visit the ‘mothership’ Gallery and meet with its connections in Dublin.

If I needed further inspiration, our group was to be joined by student leader, Jess Vovers, a clever young blue/green/pink haired engineer. The colour of her hair isn’t strictly relevant but, if you know Jess, you know that it is her all-round charisma in addition to her sharp scientific mind that just makes you want to follow her into the world of science. Thankfully, because she has influenced many young women into such studies from her former position as President of Women in Science and Engineering – and since.

So, in London in September 2016, we toured the King’s College site where the Science Gallery was being created before our eyes, and listened to our hosts, who made me want to know more.

I didn’t have to wait long. The following day, we were in Dublin, visiting tech sites and learning much about an ecosystem that has seen that city emerge as a leading tech and start-up hub.

It was exciting. There we saw one they’d prepared earlier, as it were. The first fully fledged Science Gallery, fascinating exhibitions, a hotbed of activity, and little wonder, given that even in those early days, the Gallery was ranked as amongst the top 10 free cultural attractions in Ireland. And young people – bright, engaged and knowledgeable young people – guiding us through the exhibition.

In September 2018, an official visit to India took us to Bengaluru where we were delighted to visit the Indian Institute of Science, one of the leading research institutes underpinning a Science Gallery that was being developed there. As the IT and biotech hub of India, and with a population of 11 million people, what an exciting addition to the Science Gallery Network!

I was smitten. So smitten, that when we were fortunate enough to be in Italy (on a family holiday) in July 2017, I couldn’t help myself. I HAD to collect another of the Science Gallery collectibles!

Tony and I, with Rose’s help from this end, were hosted at the Ca Foscari University of Venice, located on the magnificent Grand Canal, to see the site for the Venice Science Gallery, and to hear the vision for it.

Since then, several more sites have been selected. I suspect I will be ‘collecting’ them on my own time one day in the future.

The upshot of all this is as follows.

This evening, I feel like a proud aunt, as we open OUR Science Gallery Melbourne.

And this Auntie is thrilled to have been engaged relatively early, to have understood just how much it matters to enthuse young people in science, for them to understand the synergy between science and the creative arts and to immerse them in the fields of endeavour that will fuel our future prosperity.

Thank you to the University of Melbourne for attracting this important addition to Melbourne. Thank you to Peter and Ruth McMullin and their family for helping to make it possible. Thank you to everyone involved and, finally, thank you to Rose for feeding my addiction.

The Science Gallery Network is expanding, and I remain keen to collect the whole set! But for now, it is my absolute pleasure to declare Science Gallery Melbourne officially open!