The Design Museum’s new exhibition Moving to Mars invites visitors of all ages to become Martians and explore the possibilities of leaving Earth to build a home far away (the journey alone would take around 7 months to complete). Mars is the red planet, the one that captures our imagination the most; where we’ve managed to name our ‘Martians’.
Cue sci-fi Martian music and an image of large round brick red sphere and we are on our way to exploring the possibilities. The first thing the toddler notices is the Lego table in front of the full-scale prototype of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Rover. He spends over half an hour building his own Rover versions.
Whilst he is preoccupied it gives me a chance to see how this planet has captured humanity’s imagination through time from the first mentions of Mars in a cuneiform tablet on display from the British Museum and the first maps of Mars by Giovanni Schiaparelli, through to The Martian movie with Matt Damon.
After what seems like forever, the toddler hears a sound that intrigues him and moves through the exhibition to ‘On Mars Today’ a multi sensory installation where he can jump around and feel like he is on Mars. Next up is the Spaceship which we climb a few times, peeping through and preparing for our onward journey.
There’s Martian Fashion to explore, from RÆBURN’s Spring/Summer 2020 NEW HORIZON collection, including pieces RÆMADE from solar blankets and parachutes. A full-scale prototype habitat by London based design firm Hassell as part of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is there for visitors to climb on and imagine their new living space. Farming kits with hydroponics and Spirulina growing systems are also available to see so you and the little Londoners can really get a feel of what life on Mars may be like; from living conditions through to growing food and sustenance.
In the ‘Mars Futures’ section we entered the last installation by Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg that imagines ‘wilding Mars’ by just sending plant life to the planet – and not humans.
The exhibition ends with a little reading nook where you can find books for all ages, and a magnetic wall where you can decide if you would be a Mars Pioneer or if you are not convinced by it all. Whatever your thoughts, one thing is certain: the exhibition is a thought provoking, educational day out and a fun imaginary space adventure for young Londoners.
Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator at the Design Museum, said: “On the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, we are entering a new space age, with Mars once again capturing the popular imagination. As a museum interested in emergent futures, we are keen to explore how designing for space can help us design for Earth.”
I sometimes consider moving out of the big smoke and leaving London town for a quieter existence. But moving to Mars seems, to me, a cowardly thing to do; rather than stay and sort out the problems faced on this planet, let’s pack up and move to the next.
Moving to Mars exhibition is on at the Design Museum until Sunday 23 Feb 2020 and adult tickets are from £18. Child tickets for ages 6 to 16 tickets are £8 and kids under 6 are free. More info and booking here.