The date 20th July, 1969, has been rooted in our collective memory from the moment that we became conscious of the moon and the first man who stood on it. Fifty years before this day, Ohio-based astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered what has now become the moon landing’s most immortal imprint, “It’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong along with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, were the first team to successfully complete the historic Apollo 11 mission.
Since this prodigious breakthrough, space exploration has scaled other pinnacles. However, nothing came close to simulating the anxious build-up and euphoria that broke out across the world, as Armstrong uttered his words from the moon. Cities all over the United States are marking this anniversary with special retrospectives, exhibits and celebrations, the best of which are listed below:
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, in collaboration with NASA, is hosting a three-day event called the ‘Apollo 50 Festival’ at the National Mall in Washington. A flurry of exciting events–such as discussions and debates around space, will take place through the course of the two days. Groups of NASA scientists are also expected to put their newest technologies and innovations on display. In addition, the image of a 363-foot Saturn V rocket–the same one which took Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins to the moon—will be projected on the east side of the Washington Monument from 9.30 pm to 11.30 pm EDT on 20th July.
(airandspace.si.edu/apollo-50-festival; timings: 18th & 19th July: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 20th July: 9 a.m -8 p.m. Admissions are free for all.)
An ongoing travelling exhibition developed by Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service (SITES), called ‘Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission’, will be held in Seattle till 2nd September at the Smithsonian affiliate ‘The Museum of Flight’. On display, are over a dozen one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Apollo 11 Mission, which include the only recognised remains of the rocket engines which propelled Apollo 11 to the moon. In addition to the exhibition, the museum will host a three-day festival from 20th July, starting with a 1969-based Lunar Block Party. Part of these festivities also include a live production of Stephen Edwards’ Moon Landing, the Musical, a drama based on the human side of space exploration.
(www.museumofflight.org; tickets from $16/Rs1,100)
Those travelling to New York in the next five months are also in for a special treat at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), which is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in an exhibit titled ‘Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography’. This is a visual display of the scores of exclusive and extensive depictions of the moon by artists and photographers–spanning over the last three centuries. Names like Warren De La Rue and Lewis Morris Rutherfurd are listed among those claiming to have captured the very essence of the moon.
(https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2019/apollos-muse-moon-photography; tickets from $12/Rs825)
Along the same lines, is an exhibit being hosted in the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, called ‘By the Light of the Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs) is on display till 5th January, 2020. The exhibit will display a collection of lunar photographs taken by Armstrong and Aldrin, as well as those dating back to a century even before the mission.
(https://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2019/century-of-lunar-photographs-1850s-apollo-11.html; admissions are free for all)
Celebrations have taken on a bit of a pop twinge as well. Stars like Pharrell Williams and Natasha Bedingfield will be attending the show ‘One Small Step, One Giant Leap’ at the Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., which will be hosted by television personalities like Meredith Vieira and Adam Savage on 20th July. Armstrong’s son, Mark Armstrong, is expected to attend.
(http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/NTPPH#tickets; tickets from $29/Rs2,000)
Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.