Apollo 11 Command Module Will Touch Down at Cincinnati Museum Center This Fall

Cincinnati Museum Center will be the fifth and final stop in the Smithsonian's traveling exhibition "Destination Moon"

click to enlarge Apollo 11 command module Columbia - on temporary cradle. - PHOTO: ERIC LONG, NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
Photo: Eric Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Apollo 11 command module Columbiaon temporary cradle.

The Cincinnati Museum Center announced today that they will be the fifth and final stop on Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service's national tour of Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. 

Opening September 28 of this year to the public, Destination Moon celebrates the historic Apollo 11 mission's 50th anniversary. Organized by SITES and the National Air and Space Museum, the show notably features the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, the only portion of the spacecraft to return to the Earth following the first moon landing in 1969. In 1970, the module embarked on a U.S. tour — including a four-day stint in Columbus, Ohio — that ended the following year when it arrived at Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution, later moving to the National Air and Space Museum in 1976. 

Destination Moon marks the first time since that tour that Columbia has left the NASM space. 

"This is an incredible opportunity for our region to see the national treasure as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of such a historic moment," said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of the CMC, at a press conference held outside of Union Terminal. "We are honored to bring this iconic piece of history to Cincinnati as inspiration to our region for the next giant leap." 

The exhibit will also include 20 original Apollo 11-flown objects, models and videos that will guide guests through Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins' journey to the moon. Beyond the trio, it promises to shed light on the team of over 400,000 NASA workers that participated in the 20 missions from 1961 to 1969 that preceded the successful landing. 

click to enlarge Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins pose in front of the Columbia at the National Air and Space Museum in 1979. - COURTESY OF NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
Courtesy of National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins pose in front of the Columbia at the National Air and Space Museum in 1979.

The exhibition comes on the heels of Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery, which debuted at the Cincinnati Museum Center last month. Armstrong, aka the first person to walk on the moon, is also a native Ohioan. Before taking "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," he grew up in the city of Wapakoneta, Ohio. After the Apollo 11 mission, he taught at the University of Cincinnati in the department of aerospace engineering. He lived in Indian Hill until his death in 2012. 

One of his sons, Mark Armstrong, spoke at the press conference, saying Destination Moon will be incredible for the State of Ohio and Cincinnati. 

"Destination Moon is taking these incredible artifacts from 50 years ago to today and making them accessible, putting them on the road, if you will, and allowing them to have greater reach, inspire more kids and just to have a bigger impact than it would just being in Washington," he said. "That's an amazing thing." 

He called back to a memory of his father, who was given the opportunity to gift a moon rock to an organization in 2005. 

"He had no constraints to where that moon rock might go," Mark said, gesturing behind him at the CMC. "And he chose to give it here." 

Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission was made possible with the support of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, Joe Clark, Bruce R. McCaw Family Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, John and Susann Norton and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson. Locally, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, the Farmer Family Foundation and the Harold C. Schott Foundation have supported the exhibition at the CMC. 

Tickets will go live July 20 at cincymuseum.org/destination-moon. Watch the full announcement via Facebook Live below:

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