Just as the early explorers ventured ever further into the oceans, recording the wonders they encountered, today's astronomers are probing farther and deeper into space, mapping the distant landscape of the universe.
"Mapping the Cosmos: Images from the Hubble Space Telescope," brings together over 20 Hubble images as part of the Walters Art Museum exhibit "Maps: Finding Our Place in the World."
The exhibit was created through a unique collaboration between the Walters, scientists and experts at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and Professor Elizabeth Rodini and her students in the "Behind the Scenes at the Walters Art Museum" class at Johns Hopkins University. Seven undergraduate students and Professor Rodini worked with STScI professionals to choose the images and design the two-room exhibit. The students handled the images in the Manuscripts Gallery, while STScI professionals selected images for the museum's Palazzo Courtyard.
"The Hopkins students had to work through some very complicated ideas, even beyond the basics of astronomy, in order to come up with an installation that was scientifically informed but also appropriate to an art museum," says Professor Rodini. "The sort of work they did in this class — coming together as a team, collaborating with a range of professionals, and producing a finished product for the public — is unusual within an undergraduate setting. STScI and the Walters were tremendously helpful in making this unique classroom experience a success."
"The Walters and JHU's vision to celebrate these Hubble images in the environment of an art museum has provided a rare and wonderful opportunity for the public as well as those of us involved. We have all been inspired by the images displayed in this thought-provoking way," adds Matthew Lallo, STScI Observatory Specialist, who worked with Rodini's class on selecting and understanding the images.
The images, one as large as 10 feet wide, were chosen primarily for their visual impact. By revealing the natural beauty of the universe, the exhibit explores the relationship between aesthetics and science.
"It is really gratifying to see these pictures, constructed from Hubble's science data, among the beautiful, classical art in the Walters Art Museum. I hope visitors can enjoy the images as photographs of the cosmic landscapes, but also as artistic abstractions from nature," says Zoltan Levay, senior image processor at STScI.
The students began their work on the exhibit by first studying the basics of curating and then attending a series of presentations by STScI staff on the science and production of Hubble images. They then presented their image selections and exhibit design, including a small cardboard model, to their colleagues and to their STScI counterparts. STScI staff responded with a three-dimensional computer model that showed the students how their exhibit would look from the perspective within the room.
Images in the exhibit, the first collection of Hubble images presented as part of a major art exhibit in a prominent art museum, include the Carina Nebula, the Eagle Nebula, and the colliding Tadpole galaxies.
"Maps: Finding Our Place in the World" is part of the Baltimore Cultural Alliance's Baltimore Festival of Maps. Mapping the Cosmos: Images from the Hubble Space Telescope Date: Feb. 2-July 27, 2008 Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri. Location: The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD, 21201 Admission: Free
Related Events: * The Universe According to the Hubble Space Telescope, a talk on Hubble's latest images by senior astrophysicist Mario Livio; 2 p.m. April 13. * Music of the Cosmos: SONAR, 7 p.m. April 11 and 2 p.m. April 19. Musical ensemble SONAR presents a concert accompanied by projected Hubble images.