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Exhibitions and Events

'2001: A Space Odyssey' turns 50: U-M celebrates with live orchestral performance

By Nicole Casal Moore

U-M will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey.' Image: Still from film.

A campus-wide celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ including a film screening with live orchestral and choral accompaniment, will take place at the University of Michigan Sept. 21-27, 2018. This is one of only three such live performances taking place across the country.

Long recognized as one of the greatest science fiction works of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey is celebrated for its technological realism. The themes it raises, in artificial intelligence and deep space exploration, remain relevant today.

“‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ had a profound impact on many of us in the space business,” said Alec Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and a professor of aerospace engineering. “The passion and curiosity it fostered led many—myself included—to dedicate their careers to enabling the technology that will allow us to go beyond the confines of Earth’s orbit. We are delighted to showcase some of this technology throughout the celebration.”

“The music of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is as iconic as it gets,” said Matthew VanBesien, president of the University Musical Society. “Kubrick’s decision to use classical music in lieu of an original score brought a new level of familiarity to the music of Strauss and Ligeti, but audience members will experience it like never before when they hear the sound of live timpani beating over the instantly recognizable imagery of the film.”

Event schedule:


Film Screening with Live Orchestral and Choral Accompaniment: Featuring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Musica Sacra. 8-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Hill Auditorium. Advance tickets are no longer available, but some might be available on site Sept. 21.

From Science Fiction to Science Fact Panel Discussion: Three Michigan Engineering faculty members who are leaders in their fields will discuss connections between the film and current research in artificial intelligence, deep space exploration and robotics. With Alec Gallimore, professor of aerospace engineering and the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, and professors of computer science and engineering Rada Mihalcea and Ben Kuipers. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Ingalls Mall, east of Hill Auditorium.

Michigan Engineering Tech Takeover: The U-M Robotics Institute will showcase some of its latest technologies, including the two-legged walking robot named Cassie Blue, a student-built model Mars rover, drones and more. 5-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at Ingalls Mall.

Saturday Morning Physics: Opening Up the Solar System and Beyond: The U-M Saturday Morning Physics program features lectures designed for general audiences. In this talk, John Foster, U-M professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, will discuss space propulsion technologies that could shorten travel times for robotic and human missions alike beyond Mars, opening up the full solar system to in-depth exploration and eventual colonization. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Sept. 22, at Weiser Hall, rooms 170 and 182, 500 Church St.

Penny Stamps Speaker Series presents Ariel Waldman: Unexpected Space Exploration: Ariel Waldman serves on the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, a program that nurtures radical, science-fiction-inspired ideas that could transform future space missions. She is also the founder of, a directory for citizen-scientist participation in space exploration, and the global director of Science Hack Day, a grassroots science prototyping initiative in more than 25 countries. 5:10 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St.


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