Open for submissions from 11th May 09:00 to 4th June 16:00
Season dates: 20th November to 21st February

TRAUMA is an international, open-call exhibition and events programme at Science Gallery Dublin that will explore biological, psychological, societal, and cultural trauma.

A sudden, violent, stressful and disturbing event, often a physical injury, trauma can be short-lived or long-lasting with impacts that range from deeply personal to universal. Artistic reflections on TRAUMA are amongst the oldest human creations, yet they examine the same topic as cutting-edge neuroscience. At this fuzzy boundary between brain and body, pain and survival, memory and self, individual and collective, TRAUMA comes in many forms.

How does trauma affect the brain, the body, the national psyche, or all three? How do buildings and artworks record the traumas of our past? How do we bounce back after a trauma, and how is our understanding of trauma’s effects changing?

We’re looking for artists, scientists, doctors and designers to propose exhibits, artworks, and projects that connect with the emotional upheaval of trauma on a physical, biological and psychological level.

TRAUMA will also coincide with the centenary commemorations of the 1916 Easter rising, and raise questions about how society as a whole experiences trauma, how cities can show scars, and how social fabric can fray, tear, and ultimately be reinvented. At a unique time of commemoration, TRAUMA will offer a deeper understanding of the way we — as organisms, individuals and even nations —  experience pain, loss, injury, and ultimately recovery

Topics we’re interested in:

  • Injuries, medical interventions and methods for healing the human body
  • Conflict, PTSD and the psychological affects of war
  • Military conflicts, civil war, peace and reconciliation
  • Predator threat, and the ‘fight or flight’ response
  • Torture and the ‘ticking time bomb’ justification
  • Empathy, prejudice and sympathy to other people’s trauma
  • Memorials, re-enactments and remembrance of historical trauma
  • Buildings, bullet holes and boarded-up windows
  • Cultural revolution trauma and transgenerational transfer
  • Sexual violence and recovery
  • Artificial empathy (do robots fall in love?), and the three laws of robotics
  • How we heal, both mentally and physically, from trauma
  • The traumatised brain
  • Prevention of, and protection from, trauma
  • Trigger warnings

What makes a good Science Gallery Dublin open call proposal?

We are especially looking for projects that match Science Gallery Dublin’s three core aims: to Connect, Participate, and Surprise. Some tips for strong proposals:

  • We love works that invite the visitor to participate, create and discuss
  • Great projects bring together art and science in a creative way. We generally avoid paintings about science or science that is evaluating art.
  • Relevance to our core audience of 15-25 year olds is a factor in curatorial decisions.
  • Defying categories is good (“it’s kind of a hybrid sculpture, event, installation-puzzle, with a crowdsourced edible citizen-science archive, plus a performance component that will influence our design for a speculative organism…”)
  • Works can be playful or serious — most themes have room for both
  • 2D is nice, but 3D is usually nicer.  We don’t have a lot of wall space for screens, prints and the like, so we often opt for the actual object instead of just a picture of it
  • A true connection to the theme is a must — avoid shoehorning an unrelated work
  • Collaborations are great! Are you a cryptographer working with a cellist? Maybe you’re a comic book illustrator artist thinking of submitting a proposal with an immunologist? If you’re a marine geologist looking for a cheesemonger to work with, we might know just the person — just get in touch!


We are looking for up to 25 works for the TRAUMA exhibition. TRAUMA proposals will be funded up to a maximum budget of €3000 (please note this is a maximum, not a target). Two outstanding original works may be commissioned with a higher budget of up to €8000. Please note that these are maximum amounts, not targets. We are happy to write letters of support for applicants seeking funding from elsewhere.​

Confirmed Curators

  • Shane O’Mara, Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College Dublin
  • Caitriona Leahy, Assistant Professor of German at Trinity College Dublin
  • Daniel Glaser, Director of Science Gallery London at King’s College London
  • Ian Brunswick, Interim Director of Science Gallery Dublin at Trinity College Dublin

[PS: My book Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ (Harvard UP) can be preordered from Amazon (.com) – more details at end of post]

Author: Shane O'Mara

Neuroscientist, Psychologist, Writer

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