The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the mission that put a man on the moon, is coming up on July 20th, and it's being observed in numerous and at times totally random ways. For instance, Duran Duran is performing at the Kennedy Space Center; A 363-foot image of a rocket will be projected on the Washington Monument; and Barbie is releasing a "Space Oddity" Barbie. Meanwhile, the media is still fighting conspiracy theories and publishing stories proving we did in fact land on the moon.
Here in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is paying tribute with an exhibition called "Apollo's Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography," which will feature over 170 photographs alongside selected drawings, prints, paintings, films, video arts, astronomical instruments, and cameras used by Apollo astronauts.
"The moon has long been a nearly universal source of fascination and inspiration,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. "This exhibition shows us how photography introduced new dimensions to its documentation and interpretation, and explores the tremendous impact that the 1969 moon landing had on artists of the time—the lasting effects of which still resonate today."
A museum press release detailed some of the works, which includes highlights like "two newly discovered lunar daguerreotypes from the 1840s, believed to be the earliest existing photographs of the moon," as well as works by pioneers of lunar photography. The use of the camera to "create fanciful depictions of space travel and life on the moon" will also be a focus. This, of course, all leads up to the "stunning photographs captured by early lunar expeditions sent by the Soviet and American space programs, culminating in the crewed missions of the Apollo program... The final section of the show will focus on art created in the wake of the 1969 Moon landing through the present day."
The NY Times praised the exhibition, calling it an "outsize and beautifully installed revelation of persistent astronomical searches" that "is a trailblazing marriage of science and art."
Outside of the Met, here's how other institutions are marking the occasion:
- On Friday, July 12th, the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York will host an evening of moon gazing on the museum's rooftop.
- On July 16th, Carnegie Hall is hosting historian John Monsky's multimedia presentation, "We Chose To Go To The Moon," complete with "with a 30-piece orchestra, Broadway singers, and stunning photography and film from NASA."
- The Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum has a full slate of Apollo 11 programming during the anniversary weekend of July 19th, including a planetarium show and a free screening of First Man, the Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling.
- The New York Hall of Science is throwing Apollo, A Party! on July 20, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with stargazing, space-themed music, a workshop to make solar-powered Mason jars, lamps, a screening of a 25-minute version of Apollo 11, and more. Plus there's access to the museum's "Above and Beyond" exhibit.
- On July 21st, Town Hall is hosting a Times Talk, including an conversation with Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins; the International Space Station's first female commander Peggy Whitson; and the first female engineer to work at NASA's Mission Control, Poppy Northcutt.
- Also on July 21st, artist Laurie Anderson will be at the American Museum of Natural History to discuss her new "virtual reality experience," co-created with Hsin-Chien Huang, called "To The Moon." According to the AMNH, "'To The Moon' uses images and tropes from Greek mythology, literature, science, science-fiction space movies, and politics to create an imaginary and dark new version of the Moon. During the 15-minute experience, the viewer is shot out from Earth, walks on the surface of the Moon, glides through space debris, flies through DNA skeletons, and is lifted up and then tossed off of a lunar mountain." "To The Moon" is part of the AMNH's SpaceFest, which also includes a recreation of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing in the Hayden Space Theater.
If you did not get a chance to see Apollo 11, the recently released documentary, in a theater, we strongly recommend asking your friend or relative with the biggest, best TV monitor to hosting a screening. It's incredibly thrilling, and the film includes stunning newly rediscovered footage and negatives from the National Archives.
And here's the full NASA footage of the moon walk itself: