Medal, Yuri Gagarin

Display Status:

This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

Commemorative and medals are one way in which Russian and Soviet leaders have recognized accomplishments and individuals in the space program. Initially limited groups of people within the space program received medals. As the space programs grew in prestige and publicity, the medals increased in numbers and played an increasing role in celebrating the accomplishments of the space program. Ultimately, medals became the currency of diplomatic gifts from the Soviet Union. High government or industry officials would give these medals as gifts to their counterparts abroad, including the United States. The typical medals had the main, commemorative theme on the front and supporting statement on the reverse.

This large, profile portrait of the first person to orbit the Earth, Yuri Gagarin is unique as it is a single-sided medal with a stand on the reverse.