Our Place in Space touches down at the Ulster Transport Museum
The popular solar system trail - as part of UNBOXED, a celebration of creativity that has been taking place across the UK since 2022 - makes its homecoming to Northern Ireland following acclaimed UK tour where it attracted over 1 million visitors in four cities.
Our Place in Space, a recreation of our solar system as a 11km sculpture trail designed by artist Oliver Jeffers, astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt and a creative team led by Nerve Centre, has landed at the Ulster Transport Museum in its final journey 'home' to Northern Ireland.
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 at Pluto in Bangor. The trail will launch to the public on 24 February running until 26 March, accompanied by an exciting events and learning programme for people of all ages.
Stretching over 11.6km, 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.
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, available on Apple and Android, 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.
An epic family-friendly programme of events will enhance the trail this February and March. Strap in for iconic space themed films with a drive-in cinema at the Ulster Transport Museum, find out how the Victorians took us to the Moon with science historian Iwan Rhys Morus, take a tour of the planets via land or sea, enjoy nature workshops, go for a sea swim, and enjoy a celebratory closing weekend of music and entertainment in Bangor. All events are free but may require advance booking.
Following the four-week programme, the first half of the sculpture trail will become a permanent fixture at the Ulster Transport Museum where visitors will still be able to journey from the Sun to Mars and the installation from Jupiter to Pluto will be removed from the North Down Coastal Path.
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:
“Our Place in Space has been a fantastic collaboration of STEAM partners from Northern Ireland, and we have been overwhelmed with the response to the project as it toured the UK. The sculpture trail has enjoyed a fantastic reception across the various locations and we’re excited to bring it back to Northern Ireland, where it first began. The figures that the project has generated in terms of audience shows the appetite that exists for collaborations of this nature – the trail provided people with the opportunity to experience the solar system in Oliver Jeffers’ unique style, and get involved in exciting educational activities and events.
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 commissioned by 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 and Little Inventors.
Our Place in Space was originally conceived through a research and development project and presented as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, co-commissioned by Belfast City Council. UNBOXED was designed to celebrate creativity and innovation, with funding from the Northern Ireland Executive, UK Government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government.