Museum Of The Moon at Durham Cathedral

Over the last few years, I have seen photographs from The Museum of the Moon as it has been exhibited in various places around the country, perhaps around the world.  Until recently however, I never imagined it would appear in one of the regions local cathedrals.  They have created an entrance to the cathedral which shunts everyone through the Lady Chapel first, past much more slender and lightweight architecture than the heavy Romanesque of the cathedral itself.  Once inside however, and stood centrally in the nave, the view of the moon directly underneath the tower lantern in the centre of the cathedral is uninterrupted. 

Museum Of The Moon – Durham Cathedral

With a seven metre diameter, the moon is almost wide enough to completely block the nave, thankfully though there was still space to see around the installation.  It is interactive in so much as you can walk around and observe from all sides, stand underneath, and have a good examine of its surface.  The surface itself is scaled down by about 1:500000 scale in order to fit the entire construction within the confines of the cathedral itself.  The positioning of the installation under the lantern means that it is in the most open spot in the building and so it encourages you to observe of from different sides with differing parts of the building in the background. 

Museum Of The Moon – Durham Cathedral

One of the key points made in the information alongside the exhibit is that it’s intended to spark thought about cultural similarities and differences around the world, as we all share and observe the one moon.   Indeed as this point is only stressed on the one interpretation board within the cathedral, it’s a point that’s easily missed by any individual viewers who haven’t seen or read the board, to those individuals it’s just an abstract moon hanging incongruously where one ordinarily would not be found.  While walking around, observing the artwork myself, I noticed a lot of other people doing the same in small groups of people, isolated from everyone else in their surroundings and for the most part unwilling to enter into a discourse with strangers on the meaning of the installation itself. 

Museum Of The Moon – Durham Cathedral

The detailing on the moon looks awesome at a distance, but from close up, it looks much more flat and two dimensional (even though it’s a sphere).  From beneath, you can see the moon wobble slightly as it hangs there in space, this helps give a feeling that at any time, it could just decide to roll onto you and down along the nave.  Although it is the newest piece of artwork within the cathedral, and only a temporary exhibit, it is still massively overshadowed by the architecture of the building and by the serene beauty of some of the other works, especially the new stained glass windows elsewhere in the cathedral itself.  

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral Doorknocker
The Lady Chapel – Durham Cathedral

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