Conference: The art and science of the Moon


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Essential information

Event type: 
Date and time: 
14 - 15 November
£80 | £60 concession
Orangery & South Parlours
Talks & courses

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of humanity’s first footsteps on another world, Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) is hosting a major exhibition exploring our evolving relationship with the Moon across times and cultures. The Moon (19 July 2019 – 5 January 2020) presents a scientific and cultural history of our nearest celestial neighbour, exploring its role as a mirror for humanity’s dreams, obsessions and endeavours.

With contributions from academics, artists and curators exploring the interface between art, in its widest sense, and science, this conference will consider various creative responses to our cosmic companion.  In keeping with RMG’s interest in interrogating the collision of science, history and art, ‘The Art and Science of the Moon’ will explore how the Moon’s motions and phases have influenced human activities, beliefs and behaviours; how sustained scrutiny of the lunar surface have enabled us to understand more about ourselves; how attempts, imaginary and real, to reach this other world have fostered creativity and technological progress; and how in the 21st century we are rethinking our relationship with the Moon.

Day rates available by phoning our bookings team: (020) 8312 6608

Provisional programme

The conference will take place in the Orangery and South Parlours of the Queen's House.

Thursday 14 November 2019

9.30am -10am

Registration and refreshments

10am -10.15am

Welcome from Melanie Vandenbrouck, Lead Curator of The Moon, and opening remarks from Louise Devoy, Senior Curator, Royal Observatory Greenwich

10.15am - 11.15am

Session 1: Landscapes and Lunar observation

Victor Dos Reis (University of Lisbon)

Uncertainty, Inaccuracy and Bravery: art, science and technology in the lunar landscapes of Galileo

Natalia Bosko (Art historian)

The Moon in the Early Artwork of J.M.W. Turner

11.15am - 11.45am

Coffee and tea

11.45am - 1.15pm

Session 2: Capturing Moonlight

Kelley Wilder (De Montfort University, Leicester)

Moonlight and the ‘speed’ of photography

Melanie King (Lumen and London Alternative Photography Collective)

Celestial Light

Paul Gaffney (University of Ulster, Belfast)

Perigee – a moonlit photographic exploration of the Ardennes

1.15pm - 2pm

Lunch, including opportunity to visit the exhibitions The Moon and Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year

2pm - 3.30pm

Session 3: The Female Moon

Stella Papakonstantinou (independent scholar, Athens)

The Moon and Ancient Greek Drama

Matilda Pye (Royal Museums Greenwich and V&A Research Institute)

Mortal Moon: Susan Derges

Bettina Forget (Concordia University, Canada)

Women with Impact

3.30pm - 5pm

Exhibitions visits (various locations)

Delegates to divide in groups to see Mortal Moon: Susan Derges (Queen’s House) with Matilda Pye; The Moon (Special Exhibitions Gallery, National Maritime Museum) with Louise Devoy, Megan Barford and Melanie Vandenbrouck, and Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year (Photography Gallery, National Maritime Museum).

5pm - 6pm

Plenary Lecture

Professor Paul Murdin OBE (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge)

6pm - 7pm

Drinks reception

Friday 15 November 2019

10am - 10.30am

Arrival and refreshments

10.30am - 11.30am

Session 4: Lunar Rhythms

Rhianna Elliott (University of Cambridge)

Blood, bodies and the moon: creating a child in early modern medical texts

Laura Williams (The Aluna Foundation)

Aluna, a monumental public timepiece for Greenwich

11.30am - 12.30pm

Engaging with the cosmos: Katie Paterson in Conversation with Curator of Art Melanie Vandenbrouck

12.30pm - 1.30pm

Lunch, including opportunity to visit the exhibitions The Moon and Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year

1.30pm -3pm

Session 5: Contested terrain

Richard Dunn (Science Museum)

Lunar Fictions

Jake Silver (Duke University, USA)

Political gravities: the cultural and colonial dimensions of lunarity in Israel/Palestine

Emily Hsiang (Lund University, Sweden)

Racing to the Moon – With a Free Market

3pm - 3.30pm

Coffee and tea

Concessions are members of Royal Museums Greenwich, people over 60, and students.