Launch event, 26 May – 3 June

Join us during May half-term as we celebrate the launch of this major new exhibition. Invisible Worlds will reveal the world beyond your senses – too vast, too fast, too slow, too far away in space and time... Find out more about what's on

Exhibits, exhibitions and events

Ground Floor

Too small, too vast, too long ago to see… until now

What lies beyond our senses helps to keep us all alive: creatures so small we can’t see them, natural systems so vast we can’t feel them, and a time so long ago it’s hard to imagine. Together a series of introductory digital exhibits, the Small, Vast and Past Invisible, bring the Earth’s Life Support System into view. This system provides us with fresh air, clean water, fertile soil, nutritious food, rich biodiversity and an equitable stable climate. The system is precious, unique and fragile. You are part of it – it affects you and you affect it.

Art installation: Centrepiece

Our large-scale ceramic sculpture pays homage to one of the world’s smallest but most important organisms: the cyanobacteria. Artist duo Studio Swine wanted to build a monument to these vital but invisible unsung heroes, in the same way as notable people are commemorated with statues. Three billion years ago the cyanobacteria started to produce oxygen – which changed the face of the Earth forever. Today they, and their distant descendants found in plants and phytoplankton, provide the oxygen in every breath we take. Without them we would not be here.

Art installation: Seed

Seed, a 75-tonne Cornish granite sculpture carved by Peter Randall-Page, carries nature’s pattern and the Fibonacci sequence into the heart of the building.

First Floor

Invisible You

Enjoy exhibits and artworks that tell the story of the Human Microbiome: the trillions of microbes that live inside us that help to form, feed and protect us. Find out more about Invisible You here.

Play Lab

A play area for the young and young at heart.

The Lab

Discussions, hands-on science, sci-art workshops will all be happening in this space. Look out for daily programming details.

‘The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.’

Eden Phillpotts, 1919

Second Floor

Core Cafe. Invisible Worlds: Food

Microbes grow, ferment, flavour and help digest our food. Sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, miso and soy sauce are all fermented by microbes. Without microbes, there would also be no cheese, yoghurt, bread, beer, salami, chocolate, coffee, wine … Within us, right now, microbes are helping to digest our food. In the soil, other microbes are feeding and protecting our crops. They turn the air into fertilizer and recycle the dead. No microbes, no food.

Rock Garden: The Biology of Geology

Rock’s ebb and flow, however slow, drives life itself. In an ancient dance of time, climate, weather and life, mainly microbial, turn rock into bodies and bodies into rock. Rocks form the graves for plants and plankton that turn to coal and oil, fuelling our fires and warming our skies. We mine rock for our homes and hardware. The Earth’s first pioneer land plants made rock their foundations and created the first soils. Microbes that live on and within it, with their strange behaviour, may provide solutions for some of today’s environmental problems.

Play area (Under 5s)

Celebrating the little things in life.

Exhibition Gallery

We'll be hosting a range of temporary exhibitions and art installations. Throughout the year live events, stories, workshops and sci-art residencies bring different parts of our Invisible World into focus. Look out for daily programming details, but here are the initial range of temporary exhibitions:

Glass Microbiology by Luke Jerram

  • 25 May – 8 July

Come face to face with the beauty of some of the deadliest viruses known to man.

Other Worlds – Visions of our Solar System by Michael Benson

  • 21 July – 2 September

Embark on a fascinating journey to the furthest reaches of the solar system.

Followed by….

World in a Drop by Scott Chimileski & Roberto Kolter

  • Autumn 2018 (dates TBC)

What is the Life Support System?

Energy and materials flow in endless cycles between air, water, land and life, including us – everything on the Earth is part of this interconnected System. It’s powered, in the main, by the sun and driven, in the main, by microbes.

Invisible lifeforms and processes provide our

  • fresh air
  • clean water
  • fertile soil
  • nutritious food
  • rich biodiversity
  • a stable climate
  • and a natural recycling system other words - our Life Support System.

We’re polluting the Earth, depleting resources, reducing biodiversity, causing climate change... What to do? Reveal the Vast, examine the Past, respect the Small, explore the Invisible Worlds of air, water and land (in Eden’s Outdoor Gardens) and learn from and work with Earth’s Life Support System:

  • use a sustainable energy source (the sun)
  • recycle materials as nature does
  • take a lesson from the microbes: innovations start on a small scale, and if they succeed they spread.

Bringing the invisible into view and exploring the interconnectedness of everything can transform our understanding of the world…and how we interact with it. By connecting with the both the visible and invisible living world and working together we can tackle today’s challenges.

Invisible Worlds residencies

The following artists, co-curated by FoAM, will be taking up residence at the Eden Project in 2018 to undertake projects relating to Invisible Worlds.

Disintegrated Rock by Rosanna Martin

  • 25-31 July and 15-28 October

Our interaction with the planet has given rise to a place where human and geological forces are no longer always distinguishable. Disintegrated Rock will explore this concept by engaging in a process of microscopic examination, research and material manipulation of sands, silts and clays that were spilt out as by-products from Cornwall’s china clay industry and related erosion. A series of sculptural rocks will be created to form a handling collection for visitors to Eden to discover, displayed alongside research and experiments.

... and then we see if we will be friends by Katharina Hauke and Till Bovermann

  • 2-26 September (TBC)

Within this project, the artists invite all curious organisms and life-forms in and around the Eden Project to create sounds and improvised experimental music together. Small networked music making systems will be set up within the various sites of the Eden Project that feature differing degrees of self-sufficiency and interaction possibilities for both visitors and inhabitants. The artists will adapt and extend the semi-autonomous platforms on-the-fly to both sense and provoke actions of the various actors, inviting them to explore emergent collaborative phenomena.

Ferment! by Hoon Kim, Sean Meaden and Elizabeth Fortnum

  • 1-14 October

Ferment! is an interactive workshop where you can explore the process through science, food and art. British cuisine is uniquely disengaged with this ancient process but we believe it can be a useful tool in developing a new culture. As a simple method of preserving natural seasonal gluts and creating exciting flavours with local produce, knowing how to ferment can help open new dialogues between growers and consumers, the environment and the seasons. We invite you to study fermentation on its microbial scale, to taste and create your own ferments and explore the sound and art of this wonderful process!


Invisible Worlds is supported by the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, the Wolfson Foundation and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.