Home >> Hot Issue

Visiting Mars in Beijing

Updated: 2021-08-30 08:01 ( China Daily )
Share - WeChat
The Mars 2035 multimedia exhibition at Beijing's Millennium Monument creatively presents over 100 items that explore our scientific and cultural understanding of the red planet. [Photo by Erik Nilsson/China Daily]

An exhibition in the capital explores the art and science of our understanding of the red planet, Erik Nilsson reports. 

While international travel is restricted because of COVID-19, Beijing residents can still make an interplanetary trip without leaving the city.

They can even get their passports stamped at display halls during their visit to the red planet at the Mars 2035 exhibition running at the Millennium Monument.

Indeed, the show, which ends on Tuesday, literally examines the art and science of understanding Mars. The multimedia displays, which are curated in a style more befitting of a gallery than a museum, explore how it has been understood not only by astronomers but also by pop-culture creators, such as writers, TV producers and filmmakers.

There are not only models of heavenly bodies, telescopes and rockets but also of Martians, including "little gray" humanoids, squid-like monsters and fierce four-legged beasts.

Highlights of the over 100 items on show include copies of the Golden Record: images and sounds of Earth sent on Voyager in case the craft encountered intelligent life; a mirror-walled room with fiber-optic lights dangling from the ceiling and swirling galaxies projected on the floor; a model of Mars that's 2.5 meters in diameter; and a six-legged fanged monster that suddenly snaps its jaws when visitors touch its claws.

Some displays are out of this world in another sense-that is, seemingly random.

The Mars 2035 multimedia exhibition at Beijing's Millennium Monument creatively presents over 100 items that explore our scientific and cultural understanding of the red planet. [Photo by Erik Nilsson/China Daily]

For instance, a triceratops head mounted on a wall, a skull wrapped in wire and angel statues don't have any clear connection with our neighboring planet but do infuse a bizarre feel that adds to the fun.

The Past Theater hall examines the planet's retrogrades, when it appears larger and brighter as Earth passes it every other year.

The Century Fantasy section imagines Martians, who were previously believed to inhabit the planet after astronomers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries detected around 400 "canals" that are actually optical illusions.

The Night of Opposition artistically renders themes from H.G.Wells' 1897 sci-fi epic, The War of the Worlds, in which creatures from the red planet invade London. The story is believed to be a commentary on imperialism. It's perhaps best known today for an incident in 1938, when it was presented on a radio show and supposedly caused mass hysteria since listeners thought it was real.

1 2 Next   >>|
Editor's Pick
Hot words
Most Popular