Moon landing in Exeter Cathedral

Elizabeth-Jane Baldry
Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram Photo by Robert Sils

Bristol-based artist, Luke Jerram, is known world-wide for his large-scale artworks, capturing the public imagination with his ground-breaking combination of art, science and play. In 2016 he was described by Bloomberg Television as ‘probably the most famous artist you’ve never heard of’.

Luke’s artwork Museum of the Moon is one of his most successful projects. So far, it has been presented more than two hundred and fifty times in thirty different countries, and has been experienced by more than ten million people. In 2019 it was displayed at the Glastonbury Festival and in the same year over two million people went to see it when it was presented at the National History Museum, making it one of the most popular exhibits in the UK that year.

And now it’s our turn to get amorous with the moon! This month the Museum of the Moon comes to Exeter Cathedral. The seven metre model uses precise lunar imagery from NASA.

Luke says: “I wanted to make the artwork seem as authentic and realistic as possible. For most people, this will be their most intimate, personal, and closest encounter they will ever have with the Moon.”

Enhancing the installation is a surround-sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award-winning composer, Dan Jones. “I’ve worked with Dan for over fifteen years,” says Luke. “We both understand the power that music has to paint imagery in the imagination. For the Museum of the Moon, the composed soundscape helps connect the sculpture with the surrounding architecture. For me, the music in the space shapes the experience.”

Luke describes the public’s response to the art installation: “It’s been wonderful to witness. Many people spend hours with the moon exploring its every detail. Some visitors lie down and moon-bathe. At the Natural History Museum, a man wearing a suit came up to me in tears. He was a space scientist from the European Space Agency and had spent his career studying the surface of the moon. I gave him a hug and he left the exhibition a very happy man!

‘In Leicester one little girl asked, ‘Will you put the moon back afterwards?’ She thought I’d stolen the real moon! I reassured her that I would definitely return the moon after the exhibition. In Bristol, we had an unexpected group of visitors who arrived in slow motion, dressed as spacemen! In Marseille I arranged an arc of deckchairs beneath the moon. Within minutes, many of the chairs had been grouped into pairs and were occupied by couples holding hands!

“I think one of the reasons the artwork has been so well received, is that it leaves space for the public to interact with one another and participate in a communal shared experience. The artwork can be accessed by different people at different levels. A four-year-old child can enjoy it as much as a professional astronomer. We often draw massive crowds, many of them visiting a museum or gallery for the first time.”

Luke spent about six months making Museum of the Moon. The creation involved much prototyping, planning, and fund-raising. He originally had the idea 15 years ago, but back then neither the data nor the printing technology were available to create an accurate facsimile of the moon’s surface.

“I create artwork inspired by nature,” Luke explains. “Nature is full of innovations and has come up with lots of solutions to solve problems. I hope to create spaces in which people can contemplate what man is doing to nature, and I also want my art to be inspiring and fun.”

Museum of the Moon
Art installation in Exeter Cathedral featuring a seven-metre replica of the moon, a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround-sound composition.

Thursday, 3rd February to Sunday, 27th February
Adult £5 / Child (within a family group) – Free Booking by timed entry slot at www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk

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