Since its opening, and until recent years, our Zeiss Model VIa optical planetarium projector has brought the wonder of the night sky to countless visitors. The Zeiss Company no longer services the over 40 year-old model, and though its stars are as sharp as ever, and its skies deep in their dramatic blackness, its celestial motors have become weary, so it has been retired in favor of an ever-improving digital projection system that offers many advantages to meet modern programming needs. The Albert Einstein Planetarium theater itself is also closing as our multi-year renovation progresses through the Museum, but it will eventually reopen as a fully digital experience. Now that we are saying good-bye to its original projector, the Zeiss Model VIa, the question is, of course, how did it get here
National Air and Space Museum staff contribute to many larger Smithsonian efforts during any given year. For example, this year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival staff came calling. The 2010 Festival running June 24-28 and July 1-5, features the “culture” of the Smithsonian.
Many visitors express the wish to see the interiors of aircraft and spacecraft on display in the Museum. But to protect these historic treasures, they must be displayed behind barriers, which makes it impossible to see inside. But there are several cockpits you can see in the Museum, a day devoted to getting up close with aircraft, some cool electronic views, and a couple of great books that give those who are curious some excellent interior views.
The notation in the Museum’s artifact database is simple: “On loan.” But this artifact is a replica Nobel Prize. And its loan involves two government agencies, a crushed storage building, and a flight to the International Space Station. Let’s start at the beginning – literally. As in the Big Bang.
I teach an exhibition design course as an adjunct professor for the George Washington University’s Museum Studies program. I tell my students I’ve got the best job in the world: designing exhibitions for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. They often ask what you need to know to be an exhibit designer and how they can get there, too.
One of the things that makes being an educator here great is our teaching collection. I’m lucky, I work with a curatorial and collections staff that considers our needs as educators and provides the public with deaccessioned items they can touch and examine up close. Our teaching collection currently contains real space food, shuttle tiles, bits of airplanes, meteorites, uniforms and other assorted items. However, not all the items are real; our most popular replica is the shuttle era space suit. The suit has been part of the Discovery Station Program for over ten years. It was purchased with a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee and is part of the Living and Working in Space Discovery Station, our most popular station, largely because of the suit. The station gets an average of 40,000 visitors yearly, but that’s only a portion of the crowds the suit sees. It has also become a key object used for family days, story times and school tours.
The National Air and Space Museum is testing a new mobile website—the first at the Smithsonian! Visitors carrying web-enabled smartphones can now access basic information about the Museum, daily events, exhibits and find objects on display through this new site formatted for mobile devices....
Pulling up stakes is always hard to do, especially if you’re packing up and moving a million plus documents, photographs, films, engineering drawings, tech manuals, and all the other treasures that make up the National Air and Space Museum's Archives Division. Starting in May, some of our reference and reproduction services will be suspended as we get ready for the move to our great new facilities at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Phase Two. Right now, these are the affected services and the dates on which they’ll be suspended:
In my 30 years at the Museum, I have seen millions of visitors of every age and nationality pose to have their pictures taken in front of the huge astronaut figure in Bob McCall’s mural in the lobby. It makes me happy to think that his work is in photo albums around the globe, associated with fond vacation memories. I send my heartfelt condolences to Louise and the McCall family and thank them for my own fond memories of knowing Bob and Louise McCall.
Greetings, from the Astronomy Intern here at the National Air and Space Museum! I will admit that despite being the Astronomy Intern, I am not a science person by background. In fact, my experience is in world literature, history, and multicultural advocating. So what am I doing here, you ask?