Mars: The Red Mirror Touches Down at ArtScience Museum

Explore 12,000 years of stories and discoveries about the Red Planet

Docking at ArtScience Museum from 25 November, Mars: The Red Mirror will launch visitors on an out-of-this-world expedition through 12,000 years of culture, art, history, and science about Mars from ancient times to the present day.

Having been a subject of fascination over millennia, Mars has captured humankind’s imagination like no other planet. Space agencies from around the world are actively exploring Mars, with three active rover missions currently on the planet, and several manned space missions on the horizon.

Mars: The Red Mirror reflects the enduring connection humanity has to the Red Planet by bringing together narratives from pioneering scientists, modern-day experts, filmmakers, writers, and contemporary artists who have been exploring Mars through time and across diverse cultures.

It is the most comprehensive historical and cultural exhibition on the Red Planet to land in Singapore, featuring over 300 objects, including significant historical artefacts, rare scientific manuscripts, films, contemporary works of art, and even an authentic Martian meteorite.

First presented in Spain in 2021, Mars: The Red Mirror is curated by Juan Insua of the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB). The Asian premiere of this exhibition at ArtScience Museum turns its focus to Asia – from showing how Mars was depicted in ancient China, India, and Japan, to highlighting the work of pioneering Asian astronomers, and providing insight into the portrayal of Mars in Southeast Asian pop culture.

The exhibition also shows how space agencies from across Asia are scientifically exploring Mars, including Singapore’s own Space Faculty and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The emphasis on Asia provides a more inclusive and comprehensive narrative about humanity’s relationship with Mars, underscoring the significant role that Asia has played – and continues to play – in this collective quest to understand the Red Planet.

Of all the astronomical bodies in the night sky, Mars has held a special fascination for humanity through the ages. Mars: The Red Mirror shines a light on the Red Planet at a critical moment, where space agencies around the world are planning missions to Mars.
Honor Harger: Vice-President, ArtScience Museum

Unfolding across three main sections, the design and structure of the exhibition are inspired by the award-winning Mars trilogy – a series of science fiction novels by American writer Kim Stanley Robinson. Titled Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars, these novels feature in the exhibition and chronicle the settlement and terraforming of Mars, demonstrating how science fiction has shaped humankind’s Martian dreams and sowed fantasies about travelling to Mars.

Journeying from ancient myth to what may become a very real future, Mars: The Red Mirror examines humanity’s possible future relationship with Mars in the context of the current ecological crisis facing planet Earth. It poses several crucial questions to visitors: Should humans consider settling on another planet even with the ecological problems on Earth? And is Mars being sought as an escape, or as a mirror that reflects the challenges that must be addressed on this planet?

The show is a cultural journey to the Red Planet that begins with the ancient myth of the god of war and, since the 19th century, has been a rich seam for scientific observation, geopolitical struggle, and science fiction until it has become, today, a mirror of our wounded planet. The exhibition is an adventure for the imagination and a new fruitful and beautiful exploration of the crossroads between the sciences and the humanities.
Judit Carrera: Director, Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona

Mars: The Red Mirror takes an interdisciplinary approach to Mars, blending art, science, and history. It also serves as an educational platform which will inspire both children and the young at heart, to explore space science and astronomy. By including Asian astronomical history and contemporary art, the exhibition offers a unique perspective that resonates with diverse audiences, particularly in the Asian context.

Mars: The Red Mirror will run from 25 November 2023 to 7 April 2024. Tickets can be purchased here.