Open Call Details


Under Review
Open from 
15th May 2020, 10:00am AEST to 1st July 2020, 11:45pm AEST
Results by 
23rd September
Social behaviour
Population dynamics
Science fiction
Political movements
Big Data


**Extended deadline to 1st July**
Are we all just hardwired to be part of the pack?

Finding current social distancing and self-isolation a challenge? From balcony sing-alongs to virtual dance parties, our innate desire to socially connect and interact seems impossible to override. 

There are more of us now than ever before – 7.8 billion people across the entire globe, with most of us now living highly urbanized lives in an ever-growing network of cities. We are also increasingly connected through a technological frenzy of social media and digital interfaces, allowing us to share our lives to hordes of followers, to crowdsource ideas, digitise workforces, and be part of global political movements. 

We are not alone in our collective social behavior. From swarms of social insects, murmurations of birds, to molecular movements, swarming behavior underlies nearly everything. We are also seeing swarm algorithms driving our future lives, in which we will see swarms of drones and nanorobots helping (or hindering) the very essence of what it means to be human. 

At a time of unprecedented societal upheaval due to the current global viral pandemic, Science Gallery Melbourne is delving into the science and art behind what it means to be part of a pack. Have we become a plague overpopulating the world? Are we at risk of becoming culturally homogenous and less individual? Or are we becoming a superorganism capable of superior collective-intelligence with the ambition to spread beyond the realms of the Earth? 

Potential subthemes 

  • Tribalism, political movements, flashmobs, social networks 
  • Globalisation, overpopulation, colonisation 
  • Individual v’s the group 
  • Hivemind, groupthink, misinformation and memes
  • Swarming behaviour in biology (social insects, bird murmurations etc) 
  • Superorganisms 
  • Immune systems, herd immunity, pandemics 
  • Nanobots, drones, robotics, mechatronics, big data and swarm algorithms 
  • Science fiction, zombies 

Curatorial team 

Science Gallery Melbourne creates exhibitions with young people for young people. SWARM will be shaped by a curatorial panel of young people, Science Gallery staff and interdisciplinary experts including:

  • Prof Mark Elgar, Behavioural and Evolutionary Biologist, Faculty of Science 
  • Luke Briscoe, Founder and Director of INDIGILAB
  • Dr Airlie Chapman, Lecturer in Mechatronics, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Amie Kaufman, Science Fiction Author 

Send us your ideas! 

We’re on the hunt for mass inspiration from our global disciplinary community of friends to contribute proposals for our second 2021 exhibition SWARM (Aug-Oct 2021). Art/science proposals can be a new or existing artwork, performance, workshop, digital intervention, research project, or other activity. We strongly recommend that you keep our target audience of young people aged 15-25 years in mind and consider including interactive or participatory elements. Check out our tips on what makes a good open call submission.   


We’re open to all kinds of proposals. As a guide, most of our projects are funded up to $8,000 AUD which includes all artist fees, materials, equipment, shipping, travel etc. We enthusiastically welcome proposals that come in below that budget.  We will also consider proposals for larger installations with a budget of up to $50,000 AUD, with a focus on experimentation and interaction. These should have a genuine connection to the theme and our target audience. 



Great. We love questions. There are overall open call FAQs and we have listed some extra bits below. Have a read through these extra bits first to see if they help.

Who can apply?
Anyone. There are no restrictions on age, education level, research background, country or any other factor. We especially encourage submissions from First Nations people.

Can individuals or groups and collaborations apply? 
We welcome submissions of interest from individuals, groups, collaborative projects and productions working locally or internationally.  

How big is the exhibition space? 
The Science Gallery Melbourne building is going to be an amazing space with wide open areas, moveable walls, large glass windows, natural light and high ceilings. There are two dedicated gallery spaces, The Peter & Ruth McMullin Galleries; The Eastern Gallery is 800 square meters with a ceiling height of 5.5m and the Western Gallery is 300 square meters and up to 12m ceiling height. So don’t be afraid to go big. We love big. 

How do you decide which projects are included?
At Science Gallery Melbourne we embed young people in every stage of the process. The projects we receive through this open call will be reviewed and hotly debated by our curatorial panel. This panel is made up of young people, Science Gallery Melbourne staff and academic/indistry experts. If your proposal makes it to the shortlisting stage you will then meet and discuss your project with the Science Gallery team in person or on video call.

I don’t really have a project to pitch but I work in this area and I’d love to be involved. 
Let’s gloss over that this isn’t technically a question to say: Fantastic! We want to know about your practice. Come join us as we embed research and knowledge within the fabric of all our programs. We want to connect you with the public, creative practitioners, academics and industry both locally and globally. Get in touch!

Can I receive feedback from my application if I am not shortlisted?
Sorry but it’s not possible due to the volume of applications we receive. Feedback is only available to proposals that make the shortlist when they meet with the Science Gallery team.



Althought the different dates for application and result are clear, I failed to find an exhibition period / duration. 

Thank you in advance for letting me know!


Dear Stéphane, thanks for reaching out to us. Currently the provisional dates for the opening of the exhibition are: 19 July 2021- 25 October 2021 but exact dates are yet to be decided upon. Cheers and good luck!


I’m want to submit a project to SWARM’s open call and I have technical questions.

I have a project that require hanging a large but light piece from the ceiling. I would build from the ground and raise the piece little by little as it gets completed. This means I would need a hanging point on the ceiling and the possibility to raise a cable. What are your requirements/guidelines regarding working with heights? Do you have equipment/personnel? Would such an attach point be possible?

Have a beautiful day,

Seiko Hayase

Hi Seiko, thanks for your interest in SWARM and for reaching out. We will have rigging points available so that won't be a problem. Working with heights, down the line if you are part of the installation you would need to complete a University of Melbourne OH&S short induction. We are able to offer technical assistance with the install if this is something you would need help with. Please list everything in the submission. Thanks and good luck.


Thanks for the very interesting thematic prompt.

Are performance pieces considered for the exhibition? If so, is there a particular format that you would like to see followed (ie, duration, or number of performances)?

Thanks very much.

Hi Bridie, thanks for your interest. Yes, performance pieces are accepted. There isn't a particular format, please send through your ideas and your ideal format. Thanks and good luck.

We are a not for profit aboriginal art and culture centre located in outback Queensland. We are famous nationaly and internationaly for our large scale sculptures of traditional totems made from ghost net and recycled materials. Ghost Net is our term for ilegal damaged fishing nets thrown over the side of commercial fishing boats. Once disgarded they continue to catch and kill fish and other marine life without purpose. We have a large inventroy on hand and thought we could work together to make an interesting exhibit for Swarm. You can look at our work by visiting Paul Jakubowski is the manager. 

Hi Paul, thanks for your interest in working with us on SWARM. Good to hear about you, we suggest you still create a profile and submit your work to us. Cheers!


I'm interested in submitting a proposal that involves projection and wondered if you have any projectors that could be used? I'm aware that the budget is supposed to cover all equipment but projector hire is very expensive so it will have a significant impact on the possibilities of this proposal. 

Thanks in advance 

Hi Thomas, thanks for your note. We will have a small inventory of tech including projectors and screens. Happy to receive a proposal including tech costs and one without tech costs. Thanks and good luck.


I am planning to make a video application. The form says that the video should have a maximum duration of 2 minutes, but that I can provide a video URL at 4 minutes max. So is a URL to a Vimeo video up to 4 minutes acceptable? 

Many thanks,


Hi Kevin, thanks for your message. That's all good, please provide the link to the Vimeo video. Thanks and good luck.

Hi there

will this be a ticketed experience or free public access?

thanks for your time

kind regards


Hi Mik, thanks for checking about this. All of our exhibitions are free of charge! Cheers!


This call is super interesting! I'd like to know if an individual can be in several proposals, and/or one can submit several ones (e.g. different formats).

Thanks a lot!

Hi Daniel, thanks for asking. You can submit several proposals and you can be part of different proposals too. Let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks and all the best!

Hello!, its a long expensive journey from Europe so... Is there a residential space to complete works that are sent from Europe? Is there a time frame? Can technicians be instructed to install if the artist does not / cannot attend due to costs or for instance Covid 19 restrictions etc...?  can purpose built plinths ( with glass perspex cases ) be made insitu by the Science museum or would they need to be budgeted and made in the artists country - thus incurring major shipping costs??  

Thank you 


Hi Cléa, it sure is a long trip from Europe, especially now! We will have an install team on site, so a manual/instructions can be provided by you to give direction to the technicians on how to install your work. We are also able to construct/reuse existing plinths/display cases which can be produced here in Melbourne. Please make note of any requirements like these in your proposal. Thanks and all the best.

Hello, I just completed my proposal. Since the analogical interaction of my work I would like to add a couple of links that will really help to undestand the effect on audience.  It could be possible?
Thank you for time,
All the best from Buenos Aires

Hi Federico, thanks for your enquiry. You can add on any links in your application. Please let us know if you have any problems doing this. Thanks and good luck.

Hi ! I'm interested in applying with a proposal that involves spatialised sound, and was wondering if there is the option for such an installation to be set up in a quiet area or even in a separate room ? Thanks a lot !

Hi Ruby, thanks for checking in. We can always work with our designer to create a quiet space within the exhibition. Thanks. 


If submitting a collaborative project is it necesary for both parties to submit separately. The form seems to have room for one bio only.



Hi Deirdre, thanks for your enquiry. It is not necessary for both parties to submit seperate applications. Please explain in the description that it is a collaborative project and expand on your biographies there. Thanks.

Hi Science Gallery
It is possible to apply with a performance and/or interactice performartive work as well for "proposals for larger installations with a budget of up to $50,000 AUD, with a focus on experimentation and interaction" or would only installatory work be considered?
Is travel, accommodation and living costs considered in the budget proposed?

Thanks in advance for your response. 

Kind regards
Martin Rørtoft

Hi Martin, thanks for checking in about this. We are happy to accept proposals for interactive performative work as well with a budget of up to 50,000. Travel and accommodation if required should be added to this budget. Thanks in advance, all the best.


We are a company that works in the field of luminescence,  and we come to you to find out if one, or some pieces, can be immersed in complete or semi-black?

Our luminescent flowers use dark shade and black light to appear.

Thanks a lot !

Hi Sophie, we work with exhibition designers and I am sure we can find ways of blacking out the space. Thanks, Best wishes!

Hi Science Gallery
I have a question about the bigger budget - can you apply with a performative work / participatory performance? 
Also if I should consider travel and accomodation secluded from the production budget or?
Thanks for your time and attention


Hi Martin, you can apply with a participatory performance! Please add in travel and accommodation in to your budget if you need to be present in order for this piece to work. Thanks and good luck.

Hi Science Gallery team,

We're working up top-level costs for an interactive display piece that we'd like to scale as large as possible. You state ceiling heights in the call but what woudl be the maximum width wall we could cover?

We'd like to work with your local IT team on connectivity - will wired/wireless access be available for exhibits?

Steve and Bristol Uni team.

Hi Steve and the Bristol Uni team, at this stage we can't state how much space you would be able to take up, but what we can advise is that the total gallery space is 1,000 square metres, and it includes 14 moveable walls which can be used. Walls are approx. 5.5 x 2.5m. Wireless access will be available if internet connection will be needed in order for an exhibit to work. Thanks and good luck. 


For an interactive installation proposal—

I'm wondering if it's expected to be running for the full 4-month duration of the exhibit? I ask because, for example, the budget of renting projectors for 1 month is significantly cheaper than renting projectors for 4 months. 


Hi Jeremy, usually we would shortlist an exhibit which would be running for the entire duration of the exhibition dates, unless it is a one off performance. Hope that answers your question. Thanks and best wishes


I'm having problems with uploading my application. I had almost completed my draft application and it didn't appear when I logged-in to complete it and upload it on the following day.  Can you advise how I can avoid this happening again? I'm using a Mac computer in New York. Thanks and best regards, Nina 

Hi Nina, sorry to hear you have been experiencing problems with this. I will check in with someone from the technical side on this and get back to you. In the meantime if you get it to work please let us know. Thanks and best wishes


With the option to embed a video 'that covers all the areas mentioned below' am I to cover the budget in the video as well?



Hello Liz, you don't have to cover the budget in your video. The budget breakdown can be added in seperately in your application. Thanks and best wishes

Dear Science Gallery team,

I was checking "Top Tips" page, and reading budget related things. 
What does it mean "installation cost" from We will provide:?
I guess of course it doesn't include material cost of artwork itself. 
Is that include things like pedistals, lighting, even some architectual part like temporary wall etc?
Does it also include carpenter fee?

Please let me know.


Hi So, installation cost means any built construction (of plinths, pedestals, display cases etc) which we would need to prepare for your work to be exhibited, any design fees, lighting costs, professional technicians. Hope this helps. Thanks, best wishes!

Hey There,

We're applying from India and are confused about (Especially in Melbourne):

the costs of rentals (equipment: 2 projectors, 2 kinects, laptops etc)

the cost of construction (Frame for the screen: have a light material hanging from the ceiling)

We would be requiring some technical help and in installation, do we factor those in budget? What about the accommodation of artists while making the installation? 

Thank You.

Hi Shafali, thanks for contacting us about this. Please include in your application what technical equipment you require. The Gallery will have some technical assets which we may be able to use for the work. Any technical and install build costs we should be able to cover so you don't need to include the install costs in your application but just list that you may require this. If you need to be present for install then please include any flights and accommodation costs in your application. I hope that answers your questions. Thanks and best wishes.

Hello - Am I able to modify a submission already submitted? such as updating a budget,tweaking copy and adding a different image? Or can I delete the original submission and submit a new one? Thanks Antony

Hi Antony, thanks for your interest in submitting. There is an option to edit your already submitted applications, you do need to edit it before the deadline though so please make sure to do so before the deadline. If you are experiencing any problems with editing it please let us know and we will check up on this. Thanks and good luck.

Thanks but how do I do this? I can see no editing function anywhere.


Hi Antony, you should go in to 'My submissions' and then there should be an option to edit the application. Let us know if you are still having issues with this. Cheers

Hello. I'm afraid I can't find the editing function anywhere - is this because Its a completed submission and not still a draft? If so can I delete the original submission and resubmit a revised one? if so how do I do this please? thanks


Hi Antony, sorry to hear you are still having problems. I will contact my colleagues who deal with the technical side of the website and see what we can do. Will try to get back to asap. Thanks for your patience with this!

Hi Science Gallery,

Just enquiring about the timeframe. When are you likely to announce the outcome?



Melbourne Playback

Hi Danny - we'll be notifying everyone if they've been shortlisted by the 23rd September

Hello, I wanted to ask if the results are already out or if there will be a delay. Will you respond to all applicants or only the successful ones?

Thank you! :)

Hi - we'll be notifying everyone if they've been shortlisted by the 23rd September. Many thanks

Hi Swarm team,

The results date has passed - should we assume that if we haven't heard anything then we haven't been selected?

Thanks :)

Hi - we'll be notifying everyone if they've been shortlisted by the 23rd September. Many thanks!