Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction

Barbican Art Gallery

3 June – 1 September 2017

£12 with National Art Pass (standard entry £14.50)

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From deep space and dinosaurs to anime and artificial intelligence, the Barbican journey into the depths of the Science Fiction genre.

The Barbican's extensive, all-encompassing exhibition examines the huge impact of Science Fiction on art, literature, film, architecture and pop culture. This experimental show goes occupies different areas around the building, utilising a ‘festival-style’ format in order to bring together a diverse range of film screenings, live music and site-specific installation.

The main exhibition is roughly divided into four sections, beginning with mankind’s exploration of our home planet. Included are original models and props from films such as Godzilla and Jurassic Park, as well as clips from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Unsurprisingly the largest part of the show is dedicated to explorations in space. A fantastic selection of props and masks have been drawn from some of the genre’s most celebrated films, including one of Spock's outfits from Star Trek; Sam Rockwell’s suit from Moon and Darth Vader’s helmet. This chapter also examines key illustrative work that has inspired and informed sci-fi cinema, including HR Giger’s surreal concept work for Ridley Scott’s Alien and a selection of Soviet Era postcards promoting space travel.

The Barbican has also collated presentations of dystopian futures that have been imagined through film and literature. These apocalyptic societies include Margaret Attwood’s misogynist autocracy in The Handmaid’s Tale; a world of ultimate surveillance in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and the horrifying ultra-violence of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.

This advanced vision of the future also plays a part in the last section of this exhibition, Final Frontiers, which explores our continued dependence on technology and on-going fascination with artificial intelligence. Featured is a selection of cutting-edge robots from across the world, including a new installation starring Ava, the award-winning android featured in Ex Machina.

Don't miss

Conrad Shawcross was commissioned to create a new installation in The Pit theatre marrying light, sound and movement. It is informed by the artist's ongoing preoccupation with scientific theories of rationality. 

Venue information

Opening times

Art Gallery
Daily, 11am – 8pm (Thu & Fri until 9pm)

The Curve
Daily, 10am – 6pm (Thu & Fri until 9pm)

Closed 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)