In the Air

Now on
  • Free
  • Exhibition
Digitally created colour image showing a bright blue sky which graduates from light blue on the left to dark blue on the right. The sky is peppered with fluffy white cloud formations. One cloud is prominently central in the frame and the top section of it has been tinted with all the colours of the rainbow, greens, reds, violets, oranges, yellows.
Air. © Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

In the Air explores our relationship with the air around us. Moving freely across borders and through bodies, air is both vital to our existence and a threat to our health. 

The exhibition explores the relationship between the air and earth, from 3.5-billion-year-old fossilised bacteria that first introduced oxygen into the atmosphere to delicate porcelain sculptures of the glaciers that provide a record of the air and our impact on it. It charts the history of activism against pollution from 17th-century accounts of coal smoke in London to contemporary protests against levels of toxic air that disproportionately impact communities of colour in our cities. Immersive and imaginative film installations introduce us to magnified versions of the particles that occupy our air; reveal the ways that air is weaponised across the world – but also reconnect us to the healing properties of fresh air.

The air we share is investigated through the work of Tacita Dean, David Rickard, Dryden Goodwin, Forensic Architecture, Choked Up, Anna Atkins, Black and Brown Films, Irene Kopelman, Ernst Hackel, John Evelyn and Matterlurgy.

Visit us

Free admission

Galleries open Tuesday–Sunday, Opening times

Gallery 2, level 1

Step-free access is available to all floors of the building

Large-print guides, transcripts and magnifiers are available in the gallery

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