Eyewitness to Space

In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."

Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.

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  • Apollo 8 Coming Home
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1969
    Type: ART-Paintings
  • Apollo 11
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1969
    Type: ART-Paintings
  • Apollo 11 Pad
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1969
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Wide Load
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1971
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Truck with Lift
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1969
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Frogman Interviewed
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1965
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Admiral Bridge aboard the USS Lake Champlain
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Mass aboard the USS Lake Champlain
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1965
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • T-10, Astronaut Cooper Ready and Waiting
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1963
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Faith 7 in Gantry
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Cooper Enters Elevators on Pad
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Astronaut: Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr.
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1963
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Pressure Suit Test
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Astronaut: Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr.
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1963
    Type: ART-Drawings