Science Gallery Membership Plus

Nano logo of Science Gallery

Do you know the Science Gallery?

If you don’t, you should check it out sometimes – they have some pretty amazing exhibitions and since its launch nearly two years ago, they’ve brought us, among others, Lightwave, Lab in the Gallery: Pay Attention, Bubble and most recently, What If.

The exhibitions are free to enter, but participations in certain events and experiments are fee-paying. Visitors of the Science Gallery may apply for a free membership, which perks include free wi-fi at the Science Gallery, a 10% discount from Flux Café, discounted event tickets, advanced invitations to events at the Science Gallery, etc.

But in the times of funding cuts, sustaining the level of activities while maintaining the high standard means Science Gallery is now looking for an alternative mean to raise some money.

Introducing Science Gallery Membership Plus.

Its cost is €30 annually, €20 for students. For anyone who sign up before 10 February, the price is discounted to €20 and they’ll also throw in a free invitation to the LOVELAB preview party and a behind the scenes tour of the show.

With this introduction, they’re taking away most of the perks that basic members have been able to enjoy so far and shift those privileges only to paying members. Yup, from the transition date of 10 February onwards, no more free wi-fi, no more 10% discount at Flux Café, no more discounted event tickets. Basic members will retain access to the Science Gallery website and event ticket bookings only.

What bugs me a little is that this whole thing is akin to scamming trade promotions, when you’re promised certain perks until they decided they’re going to raise the bar in order to enjoy more or less the same perks again. Why can’t they just add new perks for the fee-paying members? Or take away only some, not all, of the practical perks that most members use?

Moreover, how is this bringing the membership to the next level (quoting the e-mail I received)? No matter the spin, this looks like paying to get the membership to the same previous level, except now my profile will have a nice little badge that says “Member Plus”. I’d rather they come out and say directly that membership is no longer free. I would have understand the need to introduce the fee, and happily paid for it.

Even I admit that €30 per annum is not too much, but it would be nice to think that the Science Gallery hasn’t just gone all elitist suddenly… and that’s how I felt when they try to sugarcoat the intent behind this initiative.

6 Comments so far

  1. Tweets that mention Science Gallery Membership Plus | Dublin Metblogs -- (pingback) on January 18th, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bosca, Dublin Metblogs. Dublin Metblogs said: Science Gallery Membership Plus: Do you know the Science Gallery? If you don’t, you should check it out sometime… […]

  2. MichaelJohn (unregistered) on January 18th, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

    Hi there Lil, Glad you like the Science Gallery and sorry you are upset about Membership Plus! As I understand you, you don’t necessarily have a problem in principle with paying for membership, and you think the price is reasonable for what the Science Gallery provides, your main issue is that we didn’t simply abolish free membership and say from now on you have to pay to be a member, is that right? Well to some extent I take your point but it seems to be a question of words. We thought long and hard about this as you can imagine, as we have a pretty loyal group of members who come regularly to events and exhibitions. In the end, we reckoned it was worth keeping a basic free membership allowing people to stay in touch with what’s going on in the Science Gallery, log into the website etc, rather than remove any free membership so that’s the way we went, but naturally, however it is couched, you always feel bad about having to charge for benefits that were previously given away for free, even if this is an economic necessity. For me the bottom line is we want to keep entrance to Science Gallery exhibitions free of charge, and its a question of how we can do this and maintain high quality exhibitions and events. The challenge is we just can’t give everything away for free because we don’t currently receive anything like the state funding of other cultural institutions, but are irrepressibly ambitious in the kind of programming we do. The price of Membership Plus is meant to be affordable and within reach of most people, and is also very welcome support to our activities. We could change the terminology of course and argue about Member/Member +, but the facts remain the same. And we are still the same, we haven’t gone all elitist, promise. We still like to think what we are offering is very good value for money compared to other options out there but welcome the feedback. All best, Michael John

  3. Lil (lilianl) on January 18th, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

    Hi Michael John, thank you for your feedback. I am a fan of the Science Gallery and have in the past posted/tweeted on events at the SG, as well as attending them.

    I can see the dilemma in offering everything away for free – it is difficult to sustain in this economic climate. At the same time, you’ve indicated that there’s a group of loyal members who attend the gallery regularly. Then wouldn’t it be nice for them to retain some perk, say, to continuously offer the free wifi? That way, they won’t feel like too much have been taken away, plus it may even hold the less regular members to continue dropping in to the cafe, and be ok with not getting the cafe discount so long as they can still do some work or surf the net while they’re there.

    As I mentioned, I agree that the membership is reasonable and I understand the need for it. But just like the SG facing funding issues, many people also nowadays have to decide what kind of expenses they can justify in their personal budget. That’s just my thought.

    Thanks again for your reply, I appreciate it.

  4. Science Gallery M+, take II | Dublin Metblogs (pingback) on January 22nd, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    […] a couple of days ago, I voiced my opinion of what I thought about Science Gallery M+ scheme. Seems like I’m not the only current member to react to it, as I see this little snippet in […]

  5. Michael John (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

    Hi Lil, Thanks for that and sorry for the slow response. I think we could debate about WiFi, it seems to me that about €1.70 per month for very fast WiFi would be a pretty good deal, even if you didn’t get the other benefits of Science Gallery membership plus, like free entry to preview events (saving approximately €7.50 each time) and 10% discounts on cafe and event tickets. I do appreciate that people who joined early have got used to having lots of nice benefits for free. However I think this is still really great value, and it helps us put on exhibitions without charging an entrance fee to the space, something we are extremely keen to avoid. I just wanted to mention that Members who really get involved in the Science Gallery, whether by organizing events or running workshops for teenagers, by being selected to exhibit their creations in the gallery, etc, can be invited to become Science Gallery Ambassadors, and will get all the benefits of Membership Plus for free. We will be announcing more details of the Ambassadors programme soon, but I do want you to understand that Membership is part of a bigger strategy which is all about rewarding the core group of people who participate creatively in the Science Gallery. In just a few days 88 people have already joined up as Members Plus, and this will allow us to run an event in the Science Gallery that would not otherwise have been possible. Again, thanks for the feedback, and we are certainly very interested in what you and others say as we refine our membership model and review the benefits. If you’d be interested in coming into the gallery for a chat about this I’d be delighted to meet for a coffee? All best, Michael John

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