Hayward Gallery Gets Armed with a Defensive Missile Launcher

The Bloodhound missile system being installed at the Hayward Gallery as part of "History is Now" Photo: Courtesy Hayward Gallery

London’s Hayward Gallery has just received an unusual piece of a equipment for a museum of contemporary art. As part of its current exhibition “History is Now,” which opens next week, artist Richart Wentworth has mounted a disarmed Bloodhound missile on the gallery’s terrace.

The artist curated the Cold War section of “History is Now.” The exhibition recruited seven artists—beside Wentworth, John Akomfrah, Simon Fujiwara, Roger Hiorns, Hannah Starkey, and Jane and Louise Wilson—to each focus on one sub-set of British history since World War II.

The over-13,000-pound missile launcher almost didn’t make it into the show. Originally, Wentworth only planned on showing newsreel clips of the Bloodhound system being tested.

But, as he told the Guardian, “It’s the real, the thrill of the real object,” that sets off his section of the show. “When you stand beside it, it is hard not to go ‘Wow,’” Wentworth added.

The missile is on loan from Norfolk’s RAF Defense Radar Museum. It was there that the Bloodhound served as a last line of defense against a potential Russian nuclear strike, at the peak of the Cold War. The non-nuclear Bloodhound was designed to intercept a Russian warhead in mid-air as it approached British soil.


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