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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  • View of Launch Pads
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • View From Blockhouse, Area 20
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Fueling Saturn
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Date: 1964
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Night Sketch of Pad 37
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Sketch of Lox Tank
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Titan 2. Etc
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Flame Deflector
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Pad 37
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Saturn Before Launch
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Tracking Ship
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Titan 2
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings
  • Detail Saturn
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Paul Sample
    Credit Line: Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Type: ART-Drawings