Every day is a full moon at the Franklin Institute, Luke Jerram’s “Museum of the Moon”
Michael Lieberman visits Luke Jerram's "Museum of the Moon" at the Franklin Institute. Make your way over before January 5th, 2020 for a rare chance to see 360 degrees of NASA imagery of the moon!

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Courtesy of The Franklin Institute / Darryl Moran
Courtesy of The Franklin Institute / Darryl Moran

British artist Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon is a colossal orb, 23 feet in diameter, which displays ultra-high resolution NASA imagery of the entire lunar surface. This magnificent, verisimilitudinous sculpture of the moon, a spectacular example of the intersection of art and science, is now suspended in the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at The Franklin Institute, floating just above the head of the Lincolnesque statue of Ben Franklin that sits in the middle of the ocular chamber.

The orb is illuminated from within, and the installation includes surround sound by composer Dan Jones, a recipient of the Ivor Novello award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Moving around and staring up at Mr. Jerram’s moon, the highlands, lowlands, mountains, and craters of the lunar surface, including the dark side of the moon, which never faces the earth, come to life. The experience feels as if you are orbiting the moon or seeing a topographical photograph of the real thing.

The scale of the sculpture is 1:500,000, so that each centimeter of the sphere represents approximately three miles of the surface. You will swear you are seeing a textured object, with depth and shadow, a miniaturized rendition of the moon. In fact, the sculpture is a vinyl balloon with amazingly detailed, photorealistic imagery superimposed upon its surface.

Courtesy of The Franklin Institute / Darryl Moran
Courtesy of The Franklin Institute / Darryl Moran

There is something magical, mysterious, and inspirational about the moon, and there is something wonderful about the fact that the moon is shared by, and connects, all of humanity. Cultures throughout the ages have viewed, interpreted, and used the moon in different ways, but its grand presence in our lives is a constant that touches all of our lives.

I think sometimes we overlook or misunderstand the awesome perfection of celestial objects. The following thought experiment makes the point: if you take the smoothest engineered ball bearing that modern science can create, and blow it up to the size of the Earth, it will have mountains higher than Mt. Everest and valleys deeper than the Grand Canyon.

The “Museum of the Moon” was created in 2016 and has traveled throughout the world. In fact, there are several of them traveling simultaneously. The installation at The Franklin Institute will be on display through January 5th, 2020. Admission is free during normal operating hours. 

Fascinating information about the project, and videos of its presentation in various venues around the world, can be found on its website, as well as on Mr. Jerran’s website.

Courtesy of The Franklin Institute / Darryl Moran
Courtesy of The Franklin Institute / Darryl Moran
Tags

art, british academy of film and television arts, craters, dan jones, grand canyon, ivor novello, luke jerram, moon, mt. everest, Museum, nasa, orb, projection, science, sculpture, sphere

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