Our Museums

Our Place in Space to land in Cultra in early 2023

The popular solar system trail, as part of UNBOXED - a celebration of creativity taking place across the UK this year, will visit Liverpool before landing in Northern Ireland at the Ulster Transport Museum and along the North Down Coastal Path in early 2023.

Two people standing next to The Moon sculpture
Date published
09.23.2022
Read time
3

Our Place in Space, a recreation of our solar system as a 10km sculpture trail designed by artist Oliver Jeffers, astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt and a creative team led by Nerve Centre, has announced it will land in North Down in February 2023.

Such was the response to the popular installation, which has already been experienced by over 300,000 people in Derry~Londonderry, Belfast and Cambridge to date, organisers were asked to squeeze in an extra stop in Liverpool before returning to Northern Ireland next year.

Free to visit and beginning in the grounds of the Ulster Transport Museum at Cultra, the trail will weave its way onto the North Down Coastal Path and end with Pluto in Bangor. The trail will launch in late February, accompanied by an exciting events and learning programme for people of all ages.

Stretching over 10km, the installation features scale models of the Sun and planets, recreated as contemporary art sculptures. Colourful arches house each planet with an arrow and the name of the planet lit up in Las Vegas style lights.

At a scale of 591 million to one, the Sun is 2.35 metres across, Earth is 2.2 centimetres and Pluto just 4 millimetres.

Hand pointing to Northern Ireland on globe sculpture

Our Place in Space, part of UNBOXED: Creativity, invites participants to consider how we might better share and protect our planet in future and what is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’? The project aims to bring our solar system down to Earth and send us soaring into the stars to find new perspectives and reconsider what it means to live life on our planet.

The trail is accompanied by the free Our Place in Space augmented reality app which allows users across the world to take a journey through the solar system, experiencing the planets in augmented reality and considering 10,000 years of human history on Earth. On the trail, users are invited to collect space souvenirs, including characters from the world of Oliver Jeffers, as well as launch a personalised star into space.

Oliver Jeffers, internationally renowned artist and author said: “For centuries, we’ve defined ourselves by who we are and who we’re not. Which side we choose, on what ground we stand, who and what we fight for. A human story, that lives merely in human minds. But with distance comes perspective – and what happens to our perspective on everything when we look back at Earth from space? Our Place in Space is a playful experiment that asks: What is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’? Which side are we on, and if we look back at ourselves from vastness of outer space – alone on our tiny planet, the only one that can harbour life – should there be any ‘sides’ at all?”

David Lewis, Executive Producer at the Nerve Centre, said: “Following a successful summer in Cambridge, the opportunity arose to showcase the trail in Liverpool before bringing it home in 2023. The detour is a fantastic opportunity to allow thousands more people to engage with the project and to enable more people to learn about space — all while continuing to highlight Northern Ireland’s creativity across the UK.”

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive Officer at National Museums NI, added: “Welcoming Our Place in Space to the Ulster Transport Museum in February is a significant opportunity for us to invite people to engage with arts, science and heritage in new ways. The museum tells the story of ingenuity and innovation in this part of the world in our past, and we’re excited to launch the next chapter of this story through Our Place in Space.”

Our Place in Space is one of 10 major creative projects commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity, a celebration of creativity taking place across the UK this year. UNBOXED features free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences in the UK’s most ambitious showcase of creative collaboration. 

Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer of UNBOXED, said: “Our Place in Space perfectly embodies UNBOXED as a project that brilliantly brings together art, science and technology. We’ve been delighted by its popularity in the three locations that it’s already been to, and that Liverpool has been added as a fourth destination. It’s wonderful that this extraordinary sculpture trail is heading back to Northern Ireland and that it will have a future life beyond the UNBOXED programme.”


Our Place in Space is commissioned by UNBOXED and Belfast City Council. Led by Nerve Centre, the project is a collaboration between Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, National Museums NI, NI Science Festival, Big Motive, Taunt, Microsoft, Jeffers & Sons, Dumbworld, Live Music Now, Little Inventors, and Urban Scale Interventions.

UNBOXED: Creativity is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and is commissioned and delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland.