Rockets Not Required: Lifelike Mars Display Lands at Barry Art Museum

by | Oct 13, 2022

A galactic glow will soon illuminate ODU’s campus. From October 14-16, the Barry Art Museum will bring a spectacle from space down to Earth as part of Mars Fest, the second installation of their annual Public Arts Festival. 

While last year’s celebration, “Museum of the Moon,” captivated viewers through its large-scale lunar display, this year’s spectacle features a similar sculpture, the masterpiece of UK-based artist Luke Jerram. Jerram’s rendering of the Red Planet, approximately 23 feet in diameter, is strikingly realistic. Each centimeter of the sculpture represents 10 kilometers of Mars’ surface for a scale of 1:1 million. Custom lights and surround sound amplify the eeriness of the Martian landscape. Its “irresistible enchantment” has “captured the imagination of astronomers, revolutionaries, mystics, engineers, writers, artists and scientists alike,” says Charlotte Potter Kasic, executive director for the Barry Art Museum.

Collaborating with nearly 20 community partners, including NASA Langley, the Barry Art museum will be putting on an entire exhibition of related programming. It starts with a costume contest, where visitors of all ages can enjoy food, vendors, dance, and music, with new activities planned every hour. Vendors from around town will be making an appearance, including Cova Brew Co., featuring their special “Red Planet Red Lager” and Selden Market, with their curated, shoppable “Martian Market.” For those desiring a more visual voyage, telescopes will be available to observe the Red Planet in all its glory. 

ODU is building anticipation through a lineup of asynchronous events leading up to the big event. While some, like poetry reading “Around the World to Mars,” have been moved online due to weather, their Instagram page offers sneak peeks and visual highlights from their planetarium. Additionally, ODU’s IDS Game Design, Development and Criticism program, the Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center (VMASC), and the University’s Video Game Design Club will host Mars Jam – a week-long video game creation contest. They’ll feature the finished games at the Last Resort Video Game Arcade on the final day of Mars Fest. 

While thematically consistent with last year’s extraterrestrial focus, the festival comes at a meaningful time as NASA prepares to launch its Artemis rocket to the moon. While this mission has faced repeated delays, Mars Fest offers an opportunity for space-seeking enthusiasts to embark on their own, more Earthly excursion – a visual voyage celebrating the intersection of art, science, and technology.

Free and open to the public, Mars Fest runs each night from 6-10 pm on 43rd Street between Hampton Blvd and Monarch Way and on Monarch between 43rd and 45th streets. Check out the complete list of events here.

Rachel Reiss

Talbot Park, NFK

Rachel Reiss moved to Norfolk in 2021, and, true to her native Floridian roots, has been enjoying life near the beach. Since her day job as an HR Program Manager has gone remote, it offers her the flexibility to explore the area’s rich history, culture, and diverse food scene in her spare time. She is also a passionate pianist, aspiring yogi, and self-proclaimed health nut who loves to cook. Rachel lives near Talbot Park with her husband, Phil - a CHKD resident - and their Maltese, Minnie.

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