I was just in time to see the incredible Museum of the Moon at the Natural History Museum in London, England in 2019, right after I visited the Moving to Mars exhibition at the Design Museum.
This touring artwork might be coming to a place near you soon, but if it won’t, then here a visual review of the art project by UK artist Luke Jerram.
I’ll talk you through the London Natural History Museum moon exhibition as I walked through it, show you detailed photos and various videos, so you’ll get to see the NHM moon from all sides and up close.
Enjoy the experience!
MOON EXHIBITION IN LONDON
WHAT IS THE MUSEUM OF THE MOON?
Museum of the Moon is a seven meter (about 23 feet) spherical sculpture suspended from above, featuring high-resolution NASA imagery of the lunar surface.
WHO DESIGNED THE MUSEUM OF THE MOON?
This impressive moon replica is designed by British installation artist Luke Jerram (born 1974). He is well-known for creating large installations, sculptures, and live arts projects.
OFFICIAL VIDEO MUSEUM OF THE MOON
WHY WAS THE MUSEUM OF THE MOON CREATED?
The Museum of the Moon was inspired by the artist living in Bristol and noticing the huge tidal variation as he cycled over the Avon Cut each day.
His moon research first led to his artwork Tide. After six months of work, the giant moon artwork was first exhibited at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in June 2016, but high winds caused it to burst within a few minutes. It was quickly repaired and the original balloon and its reproductions have been exhibited many times since.
In 2019 Luke was made a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
WHAT DID THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM MOON LOOK LIKE?
The exhibit in London at the Natural History museum opened Friday 17 May 2019. Due to high demand, the exhibition was extended to 1 January 2020.
Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, visitors got the chance to see the touring artwork in one of London’s most iconic buildings as it’s shown in the Museum’s Jerwood Gallery.
When I visited, it was quite busy and there was a nice mix of running kids playing under the giant sphere (kids will be kids) and adults sitting and standing scattered across the space, taking it all in.
VIDEO MUSEUM OF THE MOON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
SEEING THE MOON UP CLOSE
The moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface.
To be precise, this incredible 23 meter (75.5 feet) wide, high resolution image was created by the Astrogeology Science Centre in the USA. The imagery was taken by a NASA satellite carrying the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera launched in 2010.
At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each cm of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5 kilometers of the moon’s surface (very roughly, 1 inch is about 8 miles).
The helium balloon was made by Cameron Balloons, initially funded by the UK Association of Science and Discovery Centres and the UK Space Agency, using ripstop material coated with urethane.
But the numbers and dry facts are just one thing, as soon as you’re in the room with the moon itself, a wave of awe will wash over you.
AN UNFORGETTABLE LUNAR EXPERIENCE
Along with the highly detailed imagery came ambient moonlight and an evolving soundscape.
The sound is created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones.
What is even more amazing, is that each venue hosting the Museum of the Moon can also program their own series of lunar-inspired events beneath the orb.
You can think about activities such as yoga under the Moon and interactive theatre performances to a series of space-related talks from Museum scientists and a special after-hours Lates events.
While looking at the moon, I could wish everyone in the room would disappear for a moment, leaving me alone with this magical objects, but unfortunately, I had to find my moment of peace amidst cartwheeling kids and lots of chatter.
Next time I go and see the moon, I suggest bringing noice-cancelling headphones, even if that means you’ll miss out on the great music from the room for a moment.
ARE THERE MORE MOON REPLICAS?
Over its lifetime, the Museum of the Moon will be presented in a number of different ways both indoors and outdoors. This will alter the experience and interpretation of the artwork.
As it travels from place to place, it will gather new musical compositions and an ongoing collection of personal responses, stories and mythologies, as well as highlighting the latest moon science.
Besides a giant moon, Jerram completed a similar-sized spherical artwork of the Earth viewed from space in 2018:
GAIA – MUSEUM OF THE EARTH
WHERE IS THE MOON NOW?
The Moon has been circling the globe since 2016, lighting up all kind of spaces, including abbeys and swimming pools.
During British science week, the installation was set at Leicester cathedral in England. Over 640,000 visitors came to see the artwork as a part of the the light festival of Ghent in Belgium.
Museum of the Moon Sydney featured as part of the arts and cultural program of the 2018 commonwealth games of Australia. It has also been showcased in China, India, Scotland, Wales and France.
If you can’t visit, but still want to see the moon, then no worries. You can see it here… in virtual reality!
VR MUSEUM OF THE MOON
VERDICT MUSEUM OF THE MOON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Different cultures around the world have their own historical, cultural, scientific and religious relationships to the universe. Despite these differences this travelling artwork reminds us that there is one thing that connects us all: THE MOON.
The Moon is our closest celestial neighbour. This exhibition not only made me consider the latest moon science and our history of using the moon as a timekeeper, navigational tool and calendar, but it also inspired me to see it as a ‘cultural mirror’ to society, reflecting the ideas and beliefs of all people around the world.
As the artist shares on his website, the Museum of the Moon will shift in meaning, depending on where it is presented. New stories and meanings will be collected over time and compared from one presentation to the next.
Especially in rough times like these, this is something that definitely puts a smile to my face. It gives me hope for a world in which we all feel more connected to each other.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MOON MUSEUM?
Official Website: my-moon.org
Moon Location Now: my-moon.org/tour-dates
Instagram Inspiration: #MuseumofTheMoon
Website Luke Jerram: www.lukejerram.com
Luke Jerram Instagram: instagram.com/lukejerramartist
Natural History Museum Moon: nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/museum-of-the-moon
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