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Pasadena Museum of History to Offer Online Presentation on History, Culture Related to Mars

Published on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 | 10:54 am
A mosaic image of Mars created in July 2013. (Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech)

The Pasadena Museum of History will be offering a recorded video presentation online this week examining history and culture as they relate to Mars.

Exploring the Red Planet Through History and Culture With Nick Smith” will be available for viewing Thursday through Sunday, the museum said in a written statement.

Smith, a library technician with the Pasadena Public Library, previously curated the museum’s 2018 exhibit “Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California.”

Long before spacecraft or even telescopes, humankind has had a timeless fascination with Mars, he said.

“To early cultures, Mars was one of those stars that moves around in the sky, and it doesn’t just sit there in place,” he said. “The Greeks and the Romans, and a lot of other cultures, noticed this and named those, and tended to make those into some kind of connection with religion for various reasons.”

“Mars, because of its distinctive color, tended to be something that they could tell apart from the others because of the reddish color,” according to Smith. “And the Greeks and the Romans both associated that with their deities of war because of the color of blood and bloodshed.”

“But the fact is that in popular culture, Mars has also been kind of like the next step outward,” he added.

Smith said his presentation seeks to illustrate the connections between art, science, and dreams.

“When you look at what we’ve produced as a species, we have everything from the rovers that are currently on Mars, to the writings of Ray Bradbury, to statues all over the southern half of Europe that are all connected to this one place and our representations of this one place. And it’s an interesting thing to see those connections,” Smith said.

The video is slightly over an hour in length and viewers can watch it at their convenience Thursday through Sunday, Museum spokeswoman Jeannette Bovard said.

Those interested in viewing the video were urged to sign up for the museum’s email notifications to receive a link by email at

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