Client: The Aga Khan Museum
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Completion date: 2019
Luke Jerram Ltd
The Moon: A Voyage Through Time, presented at the Aga Khan Museum (AKM) in Toronto, explores wonder, knowledge, and beauty inspired by the moon through the ages. Spanning pre-Islamic times to the present day, and delving into faith, science, and the arts, the exhibition brings together important miniature paintings, scientific instruments, Islamic manuscripts, and contemporary works of art to illustrate a wonderment at the moon that is shared among cultures. It has played a pivotal role in sparking human imagination since time immemorial, across all world cultures. The AKM enlisted Reich&Petch (R&P) to design the 8,000 SF exhibition to showcase their rich collection as curated by the Museum team. The culmination of this exhibition is an evocative art piece, Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. This 5-meter installation of an internally illuminated replica moon features detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, at a scale of 1:500,000, each centimeter represents 5km of the moon’s surface. The installation connects the Museum environment with a surround sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Dan Jones. “Jerram’s Moon looks ethereal – and almost hyperreal.” Katherine Schwab, Fast Company.
It was the ambition of the Aga Khan Museum to offer a unique exhibit experience that transports visitors on a journey of enlightenment and discovery: To design an exhibition on how the Moon has shaped the religion, culture, and life of people in the Islamic world; to observe and imagine the moon in new and unexpected ways: to view, from multiple perspectives, in a space for people of ages and backgrounds to relax, observe, and dream; assembling a collection of over 125 artifacts, the first of its kind to highlight the key importance of the moon in the lives of Muslim countries across time and space.
Luke Jerram created the five-meter version for the Aga Khan Museum, and its meaning and significance are unique to this particular exhibition. As visitors travel through the exhibition, their understanding, and exploration of the historical importance of the moon within the Islamic world evolves. The visitor path, scale, and lines-of-sight are integrated into the design so that immersion into historical art is contrasted against its contemporary counterparts. The moon is viewed and understood as something other than an orbital object in space - a cultural, spiritual, and inspirational icon for humankind.
Working with the Museum, the R&P design team created a stunning immersive gallery that pays homage to the peace and serenity instilled by the awe-inspiring moon. Through collaborative workshops with the curatorial team*, an interactive journey of discovery was devised, taking visitors through five thematic sections: ‘the moon is ancient’; ‘the moon is wonder’; ‘the moon is knowledge’; ‘the moon is beauty’; and ‘the moon is eternal’. Just as the lunar phases transition from a new moon to a full moon, the gallery builds its messages and themes towards Jerram’s Moon sculpture which becomes a place of quiet contemplation where visitors may reflect on their journey. Curved forms draw visitors through the gallery and create a sense of movement through the depths of outer space as the visitors navigate closer to the Moon installation. Also, a rich color palette, a quiet atmosphere, and an openness to the gallery design mimic the vastness experienced in outer space. Gentle cascading light and oblong wall openings are a reminder that the moon is ever-present along this journey. *Curated by Dr. Ulrike Al-Khamis, Director of Collections and Public Programs, AKM, and guest curator Dr. Christiane Gruber, Professor of Islamic Art, University of Michigan.
Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations, and live arts projects. Working internationally since 1997, Jerram has created extraordinary art projects that have been exhibited around the world. Many of his artworks can be found in permanent collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wellcome Collection in London. R&P is a multidisciplinary architectural and exhibit design firm dedicated to creating engaging environments that inspire exploration and create impact. Formed over 30 years ago, R&P has offices in Toronto and New York City, and a talented team of design professionals. They work globally with museums, institutions, cultural organizations, and corporations creating environments that examine our world and enrich the human experience. The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, has been established and developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The Museum’s mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage while often reflecting, through both its permanent and temporary exhibitions, how cultures connect with one another.