Exhibitions on view at the National Air and Space Museum cover topics from the earliest days of flight to modern planetary exploration. Important artifacts from the Museum's extensive collection provide the basis for exhibitions.
In 2017, the Museum opened the Clouds in a Bag exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Clouds in a Bag: The Evelyn Way Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection tells the story of early ballooning and captures the excitement experienced by those who witnessed the birth of flight over two centuries ago. The Evelyn Way Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection is a generous gift of the Norfolk Charitable Trust, which also supported the exhibition.
The Museum also opened one temporary exhibition, Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War (see Spotlight).
A number of artifacts went on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, including a Sikorsky JRS-1 utility transport, Richard E. Byrd’s Fairchild FC-2W2 Stars And Stripes, the Apollo Telescope Mount sunshield and canister, and a Military Flight Demonstration Teams display case highlighting the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, Navy Blue Angels, and Army Golden Knights.
& Artist Soldiers
As the nation observed the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I in 2017, Chief Curator Peter Jakab led the National Air and Space Museum’s commemoration activities. We hosted a World War I film series, Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen; filmed a WWI-focused episode of our webcast series, STEM in 30, at the Belgium Ambassador’s residence; and opened a temporary exhibition, Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War.
The year-long film series, Hollywood Goes to War, featured a selection of the most visually striking and engaging dramas on WWI. The films in the series explored how the country was represented and interpreted on the big screen, having now emerged as a major player on the world stage. The STEM in 30 episode explored the technological advances of World War I, how the war affected the lives of children in an occupied country, and works of art by artist soldiers.
The exhibition, Artist Soldiers, opened on April 6, 2017, to mark the centenary of the United States’ entry into World War I, and will close on November 11, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. Artist Soldiers examines the emergence in WWI of war art that captured moments realistically by firsthand participants. It does so through the perspectives of professional artists who were recruited by the United States Army and those of soldiers who created artwork themselves.
The 54 sketches and paintings on view in Artist Soldiers were done by eight professional artists that were commissioned as U.S. Army officers and were embedded with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in early 1918. Their mission was to capture the wide-ranging activities of American soldiers. This collection of AEF art is on loan from the National Museum of American History for the first time since the post-war decade.
The photographs in the exhibition were taken by photographer, artist, and explorer, Jeff Gusky, and present the self-expression of individual soldiers fighting in France. With hammer and chisel, soldiers left their meaningful and moving marks in the limestone walls of underground shelters that were formerly stone quarries. These 29 photographs capture a largely forgotten world for the first time.
Jakab initiated the collaboration between the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and Jeff Gusky as the exhibition curator of Artist Soldiers because he wanted to mark the centenary of the Great War in a meaningful way. “In a very compelling and human way, the exhibition reminds us that individuals, each with unique personal experiences and perspectives, underlie all great historical events,” said Jakab. “A lesson that speaks to our own time as well as illuminating the past.”
The Hollywood Goes to War film series and Artist Soldiers exhibit were made possible by a gift in honor of Javier F. Arango.