PITTSFIELD — “The amazing thing about the moon is that it acts as a cultural mirror.”
“Every culture has different mythologies and stories they tell about the moon,” says British artist Luke Jerram in a video about his artwork, “Museum of the Moon.”
Jerram created a replica 7-meters in diameter, using 120 dpi images of the lunar surface, from NASA, with an approximate scale of 1:500,000 — each centimeter of the replica’s surface representing 5 kilometers of the moon’s surface.
The exhibit has been around the globe, touring since 2016, and now, you can gaze upon a smaller version of his work at the Berkshire Museum, where a 3-meter version (with a scale of 1:700,000 — 1 centimeter representing 10 kilometers of the moon’s surface), is suspended in the middle of the Ellen Crane Memorial Room.
The smaller replica and its accompanying soundscape are on display through Jan. 9, 2022.
“It’s not going to be on display permanently, but we hope to make it an annual event with themes built around it, similar to the Festival of Trees,” said Hilary Dunne Ferrone, the museum’s chief engagement officer and and co-interim executive director, during a tour of the exhibit.
Ferrone is one of three co-interim executive directors while the museum searches for a new director. Ferrone, along with Craig Langlois, chief experience officer, and Miriam Kronberg, chief operating officer, have been sharing the director’s duties since September, when Jeff Rodgers resigned from the position.
“We felt that it wasn’t the right time [to bring back the Festival of Trees and] to bring large groups into the museum. We thought this would fit well and the timing was perfect,” Ferrone said.
Langlois, she said, brought the “Museum of the Moon” exhibit before the museum’s collection committee, which chose to purchase the exhibit and add it to its permanent collection. Ferrone declined to divulge the purchase price per the museum’s agreement with the artist.
The idea, Jerram says in the video, to create an internally lit, scale replica of the moon, with its own ethereal soundscape by BAFTA, Ivor Novello and award-winning composer Dan Jones, was born when he was living in Bristol, England, where he watched the drastic change in tides.
“Bristol has the second highest tidal gap in all of Europe. It’s a 13 meter gap. And it’s the moon that’s making that happen,” he says in the video.
In the Crane Room, the moon floats in the center of the room; a starry sky fills the ceiling and drifts down onto the walls. The room is filled with sound — sounds from the lunar surface; Neil Armstrong speaking as he walks on the moon; President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 “Moon Speech”; Jones’ musical composition.
The room is set for contemplation, for self-reflection, for creating cultural and community experiences specific to the museum — part of exhibit’s overall purpose.
The museum, Ferrone said, has created specific events that take place under the moon that are happening throughout duration of the exhibit.
“We have four Fridays with extended hours, a paint and sip, yoga and a poetry reading,” she said. “There’s something very special about coming in here when it’s dark [outside].”
The exhibit launched with a 21 and over “salon” that included a talk by an astronomy professor from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
“It was the first of our after-hours salons,” she said. “We have a new programming manager who is developing events for young adults.”
Next up, Ferrone said, is the arrival of “Voyage to the Deep,” a traveling exhibit about underwater exploration.
“It’s going to be spectacular,” she said. “General Dynamics is lending us underwater exploration equipment to go with it.”