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Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction

Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction is Barbican’s major exhibition that explores one of pop culture’s most celebrated worlds. Featuring works that have yet to be shown in the UK, this unprecedented show encompasses music, film and art to present a new, global perspective on Science Fiction.

Curated by Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, this festival-style exhibition will be organised into four key chapters – Extraordinary Voyages, Space Odysseys, Brave New Worlds and Final Frontiers – that will each explore classic narratives of the genre in new ways. The exhibition includes pieces from the private collections of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and SFX artist Patrick Tatopoulos, as well as original artworks from films like Godzilla, Stargate and Dark City.

Exploring man’s fascination with the undiscovered areas of planet Earth, Extraordinary Voyages features a cabinet of curiosities with original manuscripts from iconic authors such as Jules Verne and James Gurney. Space Odysseys, the largest section of the show, hosts props and models from Stargate, Star Trek, Interstellar alongside original Darth Vader and Stormtrooper helmets from Star Wars™.


The third section, Brave New Worlds, explores societies that mankind has created for itself, and looks at the genre’s most enduring texts, including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange and many others. The final chapter, Final Frontiers, investigates inner realms from human perception, artificial intelligence, time travel, dimensional rifts and the slippage between the real and the virtual.

Alongside film clips, books, pulps, adverts, comics, posters and games, the Barbican presents both newly commissioned and existing contemporary artworks. A new commission by British artist Conrad Shawcross takes over The Pit theatre space, while US artist Trevor Paglen’s kinetic sculpture hangs in the entrance to the Barbican foyers. The exhibition also features short films ranging from Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts, inspired by a true story of the Zambia space programme, to Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi, following one scientist’s quest to find life beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi community.


Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction is created and co-produced by Barbican International Enterprises, Brandts –Museum of Art & Visual Culture, Denmark, and Onassis Cultural Centre, Greece. It will be staged at both venues before embarking on an international tour.

Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction runs from 3 June 2017 to 1 September 2017.

Read the full visual arts press release in our newsroom.