On July 21, 1969, American astronaut, Commander Neil Armstrong climbed down a short ladder, put his heavily weighted boot onto the ground and forever inscribed his name in the annals of human endeavour. It’s hard to believe it is 50 years since Armstrong and fellow astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins made their extraordinary journey to the moon and back. To commemorate the event, the Powerhouse Museum (MAAS) is holding a special exhibition, Apollo 11, featuring over 200 objects; some on loan from overseas, some that belong to the museum.
“We’re really fortunate that the museum already has a fantastic collection of space technology, replicas and models related to the Apollo missions and things like the Mercury missions…” says Assistant Curator, Sarah Reeves. Much of the museum’s total collection is kept in storage with selected pieces only coming out for special exhibits – some have never been displayed. One such item is a full-sized replica of the Mercury space capsule which first took American astronauts into space. It measures eight metres tall and a platform has been built alongside so that visitors can peep into the cockpit. On loan from NASA is a small, insignificant-looking rock preserved in a prism which happens to be a four-billion-year-old bit of Moon. Other special items include a replica of the Apollo 11 space suits worn during the Moon walk; parts from the Redstone (launch) Rocket engine; an Olivetti Programma 101 computer which was used to help perform calculations for the Apollo mission; and a feed horn from the Parkes Radio Telescope which was critical in receiving the initial live images from the Moon and transmitting them to televisions around the world.
A highlight of the exhibition is a specially commissioned version of Luke Jerram’s renowned Museum Of The Moon installation. The seven-metre wide spherical sculpture is internally lit and covered with authentic imagery of the Moon’s surface. The commissioned version shows the surface as it would be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.
As part of the Apollo 11 exhibition MAAS is also running a series of talks; night tours and Moon viewing at Sydney Observatory; and kids activities.
From Jun 29. Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo. $8-$15+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.maas.museum
By Rita Bratovich