TRENTON, NJ - The New Jersey State Museum is pleased to present the exhibition, Many Inspired Steps, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. On July 21, 1969 at 10:56:15 p.m. EDT, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon with the now famous words: “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The exhibition, which opens on May 25 in the Riverside Gallery on the Museum’s second floor, details the race to reach the moon between the United States and the former Soviet Union, New Jersey’s connection to the historic event, and remembers the brave men and women who participated in the space programs of both countries. The exhibition runs through November 10.
Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” was the crowning accomplishment of man’s fascination with flight; a long history that has captured the imagination of humans for millennia, from the Greek mythology of Icarus, to the accomplishments of the Wright brothers, to the conquest of space and the triumph of Apollo 11.
The exhibition details the competing efforts of the United States and the former Soviet Union – to launch satellites into orbit, land satellites on the moon, send men into space and ultimately land on the moon. In 1961 President Kennedy had announced his commitment to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth by the end of the decade. That goal wouldn’t be achieved for another eight years, and many didn’t think it could be achieved within that timeframe. Visitors will explore the many steps in the space program that needed to be accomplished in order to get a man on the moon, will be able to watch footage of the original moon landing, see rock chips from the moon. They will come away with a sense of the bravery and determination of all those involved in the space programs of both countries.
While many people are aware that astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Walter M. Schirra Jr. are from New Jersey, the state had other connections to the space race as well. On view will be a spacesuit made for astronaut David Scott, who flew in the Gemini and Apollo space programs and walked on the moon. The suit was developed by the International Latex Company, founded by scientist Abram Spanel, who owned and lived at Drumthwacket from 1962 to 1966 while his company was racing to win the contract to create and produce space suits. Also on view will be glove molds from the Trenton, NJ General Porcelain Manufacturing Company. The bisque porcelain form was used to make gloves for astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr. The New Jersey native flew in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.
The New Jersey State Museum’s Curator of Education Beth Cooper notes, “It is important to commemorate this historic event, especially since New Jersey had important connections to the space program.” Cooper continued, “In addition to the exhibition and new Planetarium program celebrating the event, we are hosting a family event on the actual date of the landing (July 20) and will have a variety of free activities and programs.”
Dr. Thomas A. Lesser, the exhibition’s creator, added that “many people were not even alive the last time a person walked on the Moon in 1972. For those who were, time has faded the memories of the feat. We need to remember and celebrate that great achievement. More than that, we need to inspire children to strive to accomplish what may seem impossible.”
Many Inspired Steps was organized by Thomas A. Lesser who has donated the exhibition, and is distributed by Audio Visual Imagineering, Inc. which donated the distribution of the exhibition to the New Jersey State Museum.
The exhibition will be complemented by a new planetarium program, CapCOM Go!, suitable for all ages. This immersive, historical documentary showcases the achievements of the Apollo program and what it took to put the first human on the moon. It introduces a new generation to the immense challenges they overcame and will inspire them to become the explorers, designers, engineers, thinkers and dreamers of the future. Planetarium tickets are $7/adults and $5/children 12 and under. The show will be presented on weekends at 3 pm from May 3 through November 24, and on weekdays at 1:30 from July 5 through August 30. A preview trailer is available on the Museum’s website.
The New Jersey State Museum is open 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Mondays and State holidays. For additional information, visit www.statemuseum.nj.gov, like the Museum’s Facebook page (@NJStateMuseum), follow us on Twitter (njstatemuseum), or Instagram (nj_statemuseum).
About the New Jersey State Museum
Located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, the New Jersey State Museum encompasses three buildings including a state-of-the-art Planetarium, and holds over 2 million artifacts in its collections in Archaeology/Ethnography, Cultural History, Fine Art and Natural History. As a center of cultural, educational and scientific engagement, the museum inspires innovation and lifelong learning through collections, exhibitions, programs and research in science, history and art. Established in 1895, the New Jersey State Museum fosters state pride, serves as a cultivator of tomorrow’s leaders, and engages visitors of all ages and diverse backgrounds in an exploration of New Jersey’s cultural and natural history presented within a global context. The New Jersey State Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.