Dr. Michael Neufeld

Senior Curator

  • Space History Department

Mike Neufeld

Dr. Michael J. Neufeld is a Senior Curator in the Division of Space History. He served as Chair of the Division from January 2007 to January 2011. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in 1951, he received history degrees from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia, before getting a Ph.D. in Modern European History from The Johns Hopkins University in 1984. After teaching at various universities in upstate New York, Dr. Neufeld came to the Museum in 1988 as the A. Verville Fellow, and held Smithsonian and National Science Foundation fellowships in 1989-90.

In 1990 Dr. Neufeld became a curator in the Museum's Aeronautics Division, where he remained until early 1999, specializing in World War II history and German World War II aircraft. After transferring to the Space History Division, he took over the collection of German World War II missiles and from 2008 he added all rocket and missile artifacts up to 1945, notably those of Robert Goddard. From 2003-07, and again from 2011 on, he also curated/curates the collection of Mercury and Gemini spacecraft and components. In fall 2001 he was a senior lecturer at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, notably on the History Channel, C-SPAN, PBS and NPR, as well as on the BBC, the German ZDF network and other foreign outlets.

Dr. Neufeld has led, or contributed to, several Museum exhibits, including Air Power in World War II (two temporary exhibits on the P-47 fighter and on the German Ar 234 jet bomber), a Gemini VII exhibit in Apollo to the Moon, and the Rocket Pioneers section of the Pioneers of Flight Gallery opened in fall 2010. He is currently co-curator of a project to replace the Apollo to the Moon gallery with a new gallery on the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo era. He has also been extensively involved in the creation of the Rockets and Missiles and Human Spaceflight sections of the new McDonnell Space Hangar at the Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The restoration and loan of German aircraft, rockets and missiles, and of U.S. Mercury and Gemini spacecraft have been a major part of his responsibilities at the Museum.

In addition to authoring numerous scholarly articles, Dr. Neufeld has written three books:

  • The Skilled Metalworkers of Nuremberg: Craft and Class in the Industrial Revolution (Rutgers University Press, 1989)
  • The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era (The Free Press, 1995). This book was translated into German and has been awarded two prizes: the History Manuscript Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for 1995, and the Dexter Prize of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) for 1997.
  • Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War, a full-length biography (Knopf, 2007). Winner of a Smithsonian Institution Secretary's Research Prize, of the Leopold Prize of the Organization of American Historians, and of the Eugene M. Emme Award for Astronautical Literature of the American Astronautical Society.

He has also edited Yves Béon's Planet Dora: A Memoir of the Holocaust and the Origins of the Space Age (Westview Press, 1997); The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It?, with Michael Berenbaum (St. Martin’s, 2000; paperback, University Press of Kansas, 2003); Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: An Autobiography, with Alex M. Spencer, (National Geographic, 2010); Spacefarers: Images of Astronauts and Cosmonauts in the Heroic Age of Spaceflight (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2013); and Milestones of Space: Eleven Iconic Objects from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Minneapolis, MN: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in association with Zenith Press, 2014).

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