Tellus Science Museum’s latest special exhibit is “out of this world.”
The display features more than 200 pieces, including a necklace created by Björn Weckström, which is identical to the jewelry worn by Princess Leia at the end of “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.” The necklace is on loan to Tellus, thanks to collector Anthony Rubano.
“The Princess Leia necklace, also known as Planetoid Valleys, has an interesting story,” said Rebecca Melsheimer, Tellus’ assistant exhibit developer. “The designer, Björn Weckström, was contacted by George Lucas’ secretary about creating a piece for one of his movies. Weckström started sketching, but he was soon told it needed to be ready in a week. That wasn’t enough time to finish the design, so he suggested that they look at his existing collection.
“The Princess Leia necklace was chosen from a series inspired by the moon landing. He didn’t realize which movie his piece was going to appear in until he saw ‘Star Wars’ in the theater. Though the necklace at Tellus didn’t appear in the movie, it is the same design.”
For Melsheimer, the necklace is a “great example of the relationship between space exploration and design.”
“A piece inspired by the moon landing became a part of a movie in space, that then inspired other jewelry artists,” she said. “We have several of those inspired pieces as well.
“Having these kinds of pieces makes the exhibit more relatable. Even if you haven’t seen the movies, you still know of “Star Wars,” and it’s always fun to see things from the movies or TV.”
Running through Oct. 24, 2021, “Out of this World! Jewelry in the Space Age” opened Nov. 7.
“Elyse Zorn Karlin, co-curator of this exhibit, bought several brooches a few years ago that were designed to resemble Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, which was launched in 1957,” Melsheimer said. “She wanted to learn about what else was out there that was inspired by space. That led her to create this exhibit, bringing together all the many ways our fascination with space has inspired design.
“Although it is different from most of the other exhibits we’ve had at Tellus, it provides an interesting look at the relationship between art and science. Artists are inspired by the scientific discoveries from space exploration and also use their knowledge of metals and gemstones as they create their works.”
The “Out of this World! Jewelry in the Space Age” exhibit is co-curated by Amy Gramsey, Tellus’ curatorial director, and Karlin, co-director of ASJRA (The Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts).
“This exhibit spans space-related themes from the early 19th century all the way through today,” Melsheimer said. “Some of the earliest pieces were part of a craze for comet jewelry that was ignited by the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1835.
“In the 1960s, people were fascinated with the new age of space exploration. Stylized versions of Sputnik quickly became the fashion. There are also pieces made of meteorites and tektites and pieces made of materials developed for use in space, like dichroic glass and polymers.”
Tellus, which is situated at 100 Tellus Drive, became a Smithsonian affiliate during its opening year in 2009. An expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum, the Cartersville venue is a program of Georgia Museums Inc.
Encompassing 120,000 square feet, Tellus is comprised of four main galleries — Collins Family My Big Backyard, Millar Science in Motion, Weinman Mineral Gallery and the Fossil Gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium, solar house and observatory.
“While there are some outstanding gemstones represented in this collection, this exhibit is more artistic in nature in my opinion,” said Shelly Redd, Tellus’ director of marketing. “I have especially enjoyed reading about the stories behind both how some of the pieces were designed, as well as how some of the pieces were acquired.
“Aside from the beautiful Princess Leia necklace, the Interstellar Cufflinks are one of my favorite pieces in the exhibit. Designed by artist Mark Schneider, they are made with platinum, gold, quartz, sapphire, mother of pearl and diamond. While they are very fancy and beautiful, I like that the design creates an illusion that tricks the eye. You can’t really tell if they curve inward or outward.”
In light of COVID-19, the museum has implemented various social distancing and sanitary measures since reopening to the general public June 20, including requiring patrons to purchase tickets online, encouraging face masks and temporarily closing its Fossil Dig.
For more information about Tellus and its exhibits, visit https://tellusmuseum.org or call 770-606-5700.