Do extraterrestrials exist and have they visited Earth? Lord Rees, the current Astronomer Royal, put it best when he said: “if aliens had made the great effort to traverse interstellar distances to come here, they wouldn’t just meet a few well-known cranks, make a few circles in corn fields and go away again”.
Despite the lack of evidence, a recent survey in the UK found that an astonishing 52% of adults believe that evidence of aliens has been covered up by the Government and one in ten claims to have seen a UFO.
This exhibition touches on both fiction and ‘fact’, from War of the Worlds and Avatar through to crop circles and accounts of alien abduction. It asks questions such as what aliens would look like and whether they would be hostile or benevolent.
The history of how society made assumptions about aliens centuries ago is fascinating, especially Leopoldo Galluzo’s illustration featuring hairy bat-men and unicorns. It’s these types of imaginative drawings and theories that we would have liked to see more of in this display.
Though it’s a small exhibition, it is very text heavy. The opinions of scientists and academics are interesting and thought provoking, but they’re not as engaging as what people, both past and present, have thought aliens could act and look like. By sticking with this informative, and arguably drier, approach and shunning the opportunity to sensationalise a little, this exhibition has taken the scientific high ground but may struggle to hold the visitor’s attention.
Alien Revolution is on display at the Royal Observatory, Blackheath Avenue, SE10 8XJ until August. Admission is free.