Gaia – 7m 3D Sculpture of the Earth to be Displayed at the National Science + Media Museum Foyer

A three-dimensional illuminated artwork of the Earth, measuring seven metres in diameter, will be suspended in the entrance foyer of the National Science and Media Museum as part of the upcoming exhibition Hello Universe: An Interactive Journey Through the Sights and Sounds of Space.

Luke Jerram’s Gaia, created using detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, will be installed 3m above floor level in the museum’s eight-storey foyer, as an introduction to the interactive family exhibition Hello Universe which continues in galleries one and two (Gaia can be viewed from 16 July – 1 September. Hello Universe gallery exhibition runs from 19 July 2019 – 22 January 2020).

The rotating artwork is 1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth, with each centimetre of the internally lit sculpture describing 18km of the Earth’s surface. In the 50th anniversary year of the first moon landing, it enables visitors to view the Earth as if they were in space.

The sculpture recalls the first time an image of the Earth, viewed in its entirety, was produced – a result of a photograph taken on NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Luke Jerram said: “At this moment, the perception and understanding of the planet changed forever. Hanging in the black emptiness of space the Earth seems isolated, a precious and fragile island of life. From a distance, the Earth is just a pale blue dot.

“I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place. An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home.”  

Annie Jamieson, curator of Hello Universe, said: “Gaia is an awe-inspiring piece of work which will look stunning in our foyer, where it can be viewed from different heights and angles to fully appreciate the experience. It is created from detailed information we have received from space, which is the theme for our interactive summer family exhibition Hello Universe. Not only that, there is a wonderful connection to our previous foyer display, Tim Peake’s Spacecraft, and we’re sure this will be just as exciting for visitors.”

The installation creates a sense of the Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, to describe the feeling of awe astronauts experience when seeing Earth from space. According to White, the effect imparts a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture. In Greek Mythology Gaia is the personification of the Earth.