Since 13 September, Durham Cathedral’s nave has played host to Luke Jerram’s widely-celebrated artwork, Museum of the Moon, and as the installation draws to a close on 11 November, the cathedral is celebrating its highest visitor number in recent years.
Over 90,500 people have visited the cathedral while the Moon has been in situ, with over 9,000 of those people booking one of the unique events – from yoga, to silent discos and organ recitals to stargazing.
Andrew Usher, Chief Assistant Officer of Visitor Experience and Enterprise at Durham Cathedral, says, “We’re delighted to have hosted Museum of the Moon and to welcome so many people to the cathedral. We’ve seen lots of people returning to the cathedral again since the pandemic as well as many people visiting the cathedral for the very first time, both during the day and on the evening for the unique events programme. During the lockdowns of last year, the cathedral carried out extensive research into the demographics of County Durham and part of our re-opening has been to engage actively with the diverse audiences across the county in a variety of ways”
These astronomical figures show an increase of more than 20,000 visitors in the same period in 2019. Durham Cathedral receives no statutory funding and relies on the support of those who visit for prayer, worship, events or heritage to continue its mission and ministry. The increased visitor figures has also seen an increase in donations to the cathedral which will help its financial recovery following the pandemic.
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “We have a long-standing policy of not charging for entry, but rather encouraging the generosity of those who come through the doors. Whatever someone’s motivation for coming to the cathedral over the last 9 weeks, the Moon has undoubtedly been part of their experience. It has been part of the life of our living, working cathedral - at the centre of special events, a presence during services, both in the cathedral and online, and has also given a focal point for reflecting on current events. For example, this week visitors have been invited to pray for COP26 meeting in Glasgow, with the Museum of the Moon reminding us of our part in the universe.
Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon has also proved hugely attractive to young families, with over 15,000 people of all ages visiting during half-term week alone.
The Dean continues, “The sense of awe and wonder the monumental scale of Museum of the Moon instils was visible during the hourly prayers, led by the daily chaplain, who reported children sitting under the moon or in the front pews, joining in the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer – in fact, leading their parents to do so.”
Since its opening day, visitors have been stopped in their tracks to take in the Moon installation, with describing it as ‘spectacular’ and ‘awe-inspiring’, whilst others defined it as ‘grounding’, ‘spiritual’ and ‘reflective’.
The inflated Moon installation is a fusion of detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, moonlight, and surround sound composition. Museum of the Moon is on display until 11 November and marks the second phase of Durham Cathedral’s new visual arts programme. To find out more about events and services at the cathedral visit www.durhamcathedral.co.uk
Durham Cathedral is a member of Culture Durham, the partnership spearheading County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025. Museum of the Moon is a shining example of how the county seizes opportunities to create unforgettable experiences for its communities, utilising the latest technology to allow people to engage with culture and the arts in a truly immersive way.