The Apollo 11 command module Columbiathe only portion of the historic spacecraft to complete the first mission to land a man on the moon and safely return him to Earthwill leave the Smithsonians National Air and Space Museum
for the first time in 46 years for the traveling exhibition Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.
The exhibitions two-year national tour will celebrate the approaching 50th anniversary of the mission and explore the birth and development of the American space program and the space race.
The planned tour, organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), will bring the command module and more than 20 one-of-a-kind artifacts from the historic mission to some of the top museums in the country:
Space Center HoustonOct. 14, 2017March 18, 2018
Saint Louis Science CenterApril 14Sept. 3, 2018
Senator John Heinz History Center, PittsburghSept. 29, 2018Feb. 18, 2019
The Museum of Flight, SeattleMarch 16Sept. 2, 2019
The Apollo 11 command module will return to a place of honor in the new exhibition Destination Moon, scheduled to open in 2021.
Through original Apollo 11-flown objects, models, videos and interactives, visitors will learn about the historic journey of the Apollo 11 crewNeil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Destination Moon will include an interactive 3-D tour, created from high-resolution scans of Columbia performed at the Smithsonian in spring 2016. The interactives will allow visitors to explore the entire craft including its intricate interior, an interior that has been inaccessible to the public until now.
On July 24, 1969, Apollo 11 met President John F. Kennedys 1961 challenge of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. The exhibition will explore what led the United States to accept this challenge and how the resulting 953,054-mile voyage to the moon and back was accomplished just eight years after the program was authorized. Destination Moon will examine the mission and shed a light on some of the more than 400,000 people employed in NASA programs who worked through the trials, tragedies and triumphs of the 20 missions from 1961 to 1969 before Apollo 11.
The tour will mark the first time Columbia will leave the National Air and Space Museum since the museum opened to the public in 1976. Before entering the collection, the command module traveled on a 50-state tour throughout 1970 and 1971 covering more than 26,000 miles. It then went on display in the Smithsonians Arts and Industries Building before the current National Air and Space Museum was built on the National Mall.
Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission is made possible by the support of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, Joe Clark, Bruce R. McCaw Family Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, John and Susann Norton, and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson. Transportation services for Destination Moon are provided by FedEx.
The traveling exhibition previews part of a new gallery opening at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which is slated to open in 2021. Destination Moon at the museum will tell the story of human exploration of the moon, from ancient dreams to the Apollo program to the missions happening right now.
All of the museums on the tour are Smithsonian Affiliatesmembers of a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources.