- August 9, 2021
The Museum of Arts and Sciences will open a new exhibit of cosmic proportions on Saturday, May 20.
The exhibit, titled "Unfolding the Universe: The James Webb Space Telescope," showcases images captured by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. MOAS Curator of Science Seth Mayo said the museum aims to show that the images can be appreciated by everyone, both as scientific discoveries and as an art form.
"When you look at a huge, sweeping view of galaxies, or a nebula where stars are being born, it almost looks like someone painted these images, these places, but they're real places in space," Mayo said. "And so we feel like people can connect with that on many levels — not just scientific, but an artistic, creative level as well."
In addition to the Webb space telescope images, the exhibit also features interactive activities including an infrared monitor, an audio experience using mirrors, and displays that explain the engineering and technical aspects of the space telescope.
MOAS Interpretation Specialist John Herman said he feels like hosting the exhibit in the community is a tremendous service.
"We wanted to make this as accessible to everybody as we can," Herman said. "The fact that anybody of any age, any group or anything can come here and experience this, I think is just phenomenal."
He and MOAS Science Communicator Christian Traverson created a 3D model of the James Webb space telescope using a 3D printer.
"This is the largest model we have found in our research that any institution outside of NASA themselves has," Herman said.
One of the images Mayo said he finds impressive is the one of "The Pillars of Creation," first captured in an image by the Hubble Space Telescope in the mid-1990s. The Webb telescope captured the nebula in more detail than ever before, Mayo said.
"I always think it looks like giant fingers stretching into space, but then to realize those columns, some of them are seven light years long, is pretty astounding," he said. "... It's well known in the public too, as an amazing picture of space, an interstellar space beyond our solar system, thousands of light years away."
He hopes that those who visit the exhibit will enjoy it and perhaps find a passion for science, technology, engineering and math — as well as art.
"As you look at the night sky, these places are really there for us to explore, for us to understand," Mayo said. "I hope people get that connection when they come into this exhibit, and just enjoy space and how amazing and beautiful it is."
The exhibit will be on display at MOAS through Oct. 1.