How would you like to touch a piece of the moon? You could hitch a ride with NASA, of course. Or…simply drop into Vienna’s Natural History Museum for a host of lunar treats at their new exhibition.
- Explores the science, art and cultural impacts of the moon in a series of galleries
- Gorgeously lit with a 4m-wide replica moon art installation at its heart
- And, yeah, you get to touch actual moon rock
- Runs 30 Oct, 2019 to Jun 1, 2020
- Just a normal entrance ticket required (or a Vienna Pass)
- See also: NHM tickets & visitor information
Our Moon. Longing, Art and Science
(View of the exhibition “Our Moon. Longing, Art and Science” © NHM Wien, Christina Rittmannsperger)
The moon is, of course, much more than just a footnote in the big book of astronomy or an insignificant blip on the map of the universe.
Throughout history, this celestial object has served as an inspiration for stories and works of art, influenced cultures and religions, and encouraged humanity to (literally) reach for the stars.
All these facets of the moon find their place in the Natural History Museum’s new exhibition.
Given the location, science plays a big role. The exhibition offers brief insights into the history of our understanding of the moon, plus what we know today about its astronomy, geology, interaction with our planet, and influence on the lives of animals.
And, of course, given the recent 50th anniversary of the moon landings, space exploration gets its fair share of attention.
But the extra sprinkling of chocolate drops on the exhibition cake comes from the other perspectives, particularly the moon as motif or inspiration in various forms of art – from paintings to film.
The centrepiece is Luke Jerram’s artwork, a perfect replica of the lunar body with a 4m diameter. It sits in its own gallery, surrounded by moon-themed quotes from such literary greats as Emily Bronte, Frost, Shelley, Blake, Browning, DH Lawrence, and others.
Niches leading off from this centrepiece explore the moon as cultural object, as seen in, for example:
- Ancient statues of moon gods
- Copies of the first works of science fiction (such as Francis Goodwin’s 1638 The Man in the Moon)
- Dona Jalufka’s moon hare oil paintings
- Moon-themed music (covering everything from Haydn’s Il Mondo de la Luna to Radiohead’s Sail to the Moon).
This being the Natural History Museum, there are plenty of audiovisual and interactive components, too. My favourites:
- A simple light box allowing you to see the difference between light conditions at a full and new moon (banal but strangely fascinating)
- The lunar meteorite display, where you can touch a piece of the moon. And in case I wasn’t clear, you get to touch. A bit of rock. That fell off. The actual moon
(Editor’s note: the museum’s permanent geological display includes a piece of the Galb Inal lunar meteorite.)
- A “To the moon” virtual reality experience, where you travel into space and traverse the moon’s surface, among other such adventures
The dark galleries are beautifully atmospheric, with their spotlights and twilight blues. And the section on the Apollo missions even has a laminated flooring that looks like the moon’s surface. So a big tip of the hat to the exhibition’s curators, designers and architects.
Dates and tickets
The exhibition runs from Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 to Monday, June 1st, 2020. There’s no extra fee to see the exhibition. But you do, of course, need a ticket for the museum or, for example, a Vienna Pass (review).
How to get to the exhibition
Spend half a day sightseeing in Vienna and you probably found the Natural History Museum anyway, built as part of the ring of glorious historical buildings at the edge of the old town. See here for general museum information and travel tips.
Address: Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna