National Air and Space Museum

Get ready for Star Trek’s 50th anniversary

Star_Trek_Gallery at EMP. Brady Harvey_ EMP Museum

The 50th anniversary of the airing of the first Star Trek episode on TV is coming up on September 8 and there are a wide array of parties and special events lined up to mark the day. I’ve got a round-up of those in the works for CNBC, but in the meantime, here are two Star Trek-themed museum exhibits you can visit right now to get in the mood.

In Seattle, the EMP Museum is hosting Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds, an artifact and prop-filled exhibition that offers a unique view of the show.

Star Trek Costumes _Brady Harvey_EMP Museum

And in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum recently put the restored model of the USS Enterprise used in all the TV episodes back on display.

Star Trek USS Enterprise from National Air and Space Museum

More hidden museum treasures

In a previous post, I shared a few of the hidden museum treasures I included in a slide show I put together for Bing Travel: fleas in a hazelnut inside a matchbox, a quilt made from Ku Klux Klan masks and a glass Portuguese man of war.  You can see those items here.

Here are few more:

This mounted skull, at Alaska’s Anchorage Museum, was labeled by the donor as the “first known Alaskan atomic victim;” it’s from a walrus supposedly killed when Russians exploded an atomic bomb near Siberia in about 1953. Exhibited briefly at the museum in 1966, the skull was put away over concerns that it was radioactive. When tested in 2000, no radiation was found, but the walrus stays in storage.

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., has more than 1,000 objects in its spacesuit collection, including most of the suits, gloves, boots and helmets worn during the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury missions. Built to withstand space — but not time — many now-fragile spacesuits are kept in storage facilities with special light, temperature and humidity controls. Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, considered the most important spacesuit ever built, has been in storage since 2006.

At the Denver Art Museum, “Linda,” a popular piece of artwork by John DeAndrea made from plastic materials, emerges from storage for a short time every few years. Kate Moomaw, assistant conservator for modern and contemporary art, says, “Deterioration of plastics typically leads to issues like color change, distortions and increased brittleness … so ‘Linda’s’ time on view is rationed out. … When not on display, ‘Linda’ is kept in dark storage.”

You can see the full slide show here.
I’m working on a book on this same topic – so if you know of museum that has a hidden treasure you’d like to nominate, please drop me a note.

(All photos courtesy of the respective museums.)

NASA: savvy art collector

Turns out NASA hasn’t been focusing all its energy on poking around in space.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has also been creating a unique and, now, very valuable art collection.

Chirs and Batty Explore Space, by Willam Wegman

Chip and Batty Explore Space, by William Wegman. Courtesy NASA Art Program

 

It started back in 1962 with the creation of the NASA Art Program and ever since then the agency has been inviting well known artists to document the space program.

The work includes paintings, drawings photographs, sculptures and other media by the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, William Wegman (above) and Jamie Wyeth.

Curious to see what they’ve got? Starting Saturday, May 28, 2011, more than 70 pieces from the collection go on view in Washington, D.C. at the National Air and Space Museum.

Here are a few more samples:
Grissom and Young, by Norman Rockwell

This 1965 painting by Norman Rockwell shows astronauts John Young and Gus Grissom suiting up for the first flight of the Gemini program in March 1965. As in the William Wegman photo above, NASA loaned Norman Rockwell a spacesuit so the work would be as accurate as possible.

Liftoff at 15 seconds by Jack Perlmutter, 1982

Liftoff at 15 seconds by Jack Perlmutter, 1982

Space Shuttle Columbia rises from Kennedy Space Center on its third flight into space, on March 22, 1982.

These and close to 70 other space-related art pieces from NASA’s collection are on display as part of NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. May 28 – October 9, 2011.

Thanks, NASA!

What I’m watching, reading..instead of working

Don’t tell me this hasn’t happened to you.

You have stuff to do.  Deadlines.  Work someone will pay you for if you just, you know, do it.

So you pour a cup of coffee and sit down at the computer.

But then, dang, the Internet happens.

Here’s a bit of what got me distracted today.

Air New Zealand posted time-lapse video footage of its first new domestic A320 being built and painted with all black livery.

The paint job has something to do with the All Blacks rugby team, so of course I had to visit that site and then the Small Blacks site as well.

As long as I was visiting the Air New Zealand site, I had to check in on what that wild and crazy furry creature, Rico, was up to. I found this reel of bloopers.

A quick check of email and Twitter sent me off in new directions.

Florida’s Dali Museum was opening in its snazzy new building in St. Petersburg, FL. And as someone who first came upon that museum collection, by accident, when it shared space with a factory in Cleveland, Ohio, I of course had to visit.

While there, I came across this clip of Salvador Dali as a guest on the old TV show, What’s My Line?

Then, of course, it was time to check email and Twitter and catch up on my RSS feed.

A blog post by the folks at the  Smithsonian Air and Space Museum – 5 Cool Things at the Udvar-Hazy Center You May Have Missed – caught my eye because the Udvar-Hazy Center is just down the road Dulles International Airport.

And then I really got tangled up in the web. A comment on the museum blog post mentioned Anita, “the spider from Skylab.”  I didn’t know about Anita so had to follow that thread.

It turns out that Anita and a companion spider, Arabella, were part of an experiment flown on Skylab, a space station launched in May 1973.

According the Smithsonian website:

Scientists and students interested in the growth, development, behavior, and adaptation of organisms in weightlessness provided a variety of biology experiments for flight in the orbital research laboratory. A common Cross spider, “Anita” participated in a web formation experiment suggested by a high school student. The experiment was carried out on the Skylab 3 mission, which lasted 59 days from July 28-September 25, 1973. Astronauts Alan Bean, Jack Lousma, and Owen Garriott carried out the scientific research in space, reported the results, and returned this specimen at the end of their mission. NASA then sent Anita, a companion spider “Arabella,” and the experiment equipment to the Museum.

Anita is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Anita Skylab Space Station spider

Arabella is in storage.

Free admission this weekend at more than 100 museums

On the first weekend of every month more than 100 museums, zoos and attractions around the country offer free admission to anyone with a Bank of America card as part of the Museums on Us program.

Visiting one of the participating venues is a great way to stretch a weekend entertainment budget and a good excuse to get acquainted with the work of a new artist or get reacquainted with a favorite animal at your local zoo.

One place on the list this month is the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas, which is hosting a traveling exhibition from the National Air and Space Museum through the end of September.

In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight features 56 large-format photographs by Carolyn Russo showcasing the elegance and beauty of airplane design.  For example, this photo shows grooves in the exhaust cone of the North American X-15.

In Plane View Exhibit at Wichita Art Museum

Can’t make it to Kansas? When the exhibit leaves the Wichita Art Museum, it will travel to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia and then, in January 2011, to the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria, Illinois.

You might also take advantage of the Museums on Us program to get free admission to the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan (Saturday only), where the 15 planes in the Heroes of the Sky exhibit includes this 1926 Fokker Trimotor used by Richard Byrd in his attempt to be the first to reach the North Pole by plane.

Ford Fokker at Henry Ford Museum

According to the museum notes:

Because Edsel Ford funded Byrd’s trip to the Arctic, the plane was named for his daughter, Josephine. Tony Fokker, the manufacturer, wanted to be sure no one mistook the plane for a Ford, so he painted the giant “FOKKER” on the wings and fuselage. There’s no heater in this plane, so temperatures inside the cabin could have easily reached -50° F while flying through the Arctic sky.