(Via Canadian Museum of Nature).
An awe-inspiring huge planet Earth is “floating” high in the Atrium of the Canadian Museum of Nature. Appearing in Canada for the first time, the inflated globe called Gaia is one of the latest, captivating sculptures by British artist Luke Jerram. Visitors will be able to see Gaia when the Museum reopens to the public on September 5, 2020.
This massive artwork is seven metres in diameter and features high-resolution NASA imagery. Each centimeter of the sculpture describes 18 km of the Earth’s surface.
Jerram’s inspiration for Gaia (named after the Greek goddess personifying Earth) was drawn from the U.S. space missions and specifically the Overview Effect. This is the reaction that astronauts experience when they first see the Earth from outer space and are struck by its beauty and fragility. The artist hopes to incite that same awe and appreciation when people look at Gaia.
“For our entire human existence we have been gazing up at the moon and projecting all our hopes, dreams and wishes up there,” says Jerram. “Whereas it was only in 1968 that we were able to see our planet floating in space for the first time.”
There are five copies of Gaia around the world. The installation of Gaia at the museum offers a moment of celebration, as the original unveiling planned for Earth Day (April 22) was cancelled due to the museum’s COVID closure.
“We’re excited to see how visitors react to it,” says Ailsa Barry, the museum’s Vice President of Experience and Engagement. “From the entrance in our Atrium to the fourth floor balcony, each level offers a different perspective of Gaia, and it reminds us what an amazing place our home planet is.”
Jerram hopes that his artwork will serve as a reminder of the need to protect our planet and combat climate change. “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,” says the artist.
The internally-lit, mesmerizing globe rotates at 0.25 rpm. It is made from woven nylon fabric by a hot-air balloon company in Bristol, Jerram’s home city.
In 2019, another of Jerram’s sculptures, Museum of the Moon, was installed in the Queens’ Lantern—the glass tower above the Canadian Museum of Nature’s entrance—in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing. The giant inflated moon has been a popular photo subject for visitors and photographers alike.
Due to precautions around COVID-19, the Museum has implemented reduced hours and specific procedures for visitor circulation. For more information, visit nature.ca.
The Museum is located at 240 McLeod Street (corner of Metcalfe St) in Ottawa. Follow the Museum on social media on Twitter (@museumofnature), Instagram (museumofnature) and Facebook.com/canadianmuseumofnature.