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Smithsonian Extends Tour of Apollo 11 Exhibition Featuring the Command Module Columbia


The Smithsonian has added the Cincinnati Museum Center as the fifth and final stop on the national tour of “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.” The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and explores the birth and development of the American space program and the space race. “Destination Moon” will be on view in Cincinnati Sept. 28–Feb. 17, 2020.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), “Destination Moon” features the Apollo 11 command module Columbia—the only portion of the historic spacecraft to complete the first mission to land a man on the moon and safely return him to Earth. Through more than 20 original Apollo 11-flown objects, models, videos and interactives from the National Air and Space Museum collection, visitors learn about the historic journey of the Apollo 11 crew—Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

The traveling exhibition previews part of a new gallery at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which is scheduled to open in 2022. Due to a change in construction schedule on the new gallery, the Smithsonian is able to share the traveling exhibition with more visitors outside of the Washington area.

On July 24, 1969, Apollo 11 met President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” The exhibition explores what led the United States to accept this challenge and how the resulting 953,054-mile voyage to the moon and back was accomplished just eight years after the program was authorized. “Destination Moon” examines the mission and sheds light on some of the more than 400,000 people employed in NASA programs who worked through the trials, tragedies and triumphs of the 20 missions from 1961 to 1969 before Apollo 11.

The tour marks the first time Columbia has left the National Air and Space Museum since the museum opened to the public in 1976. Before entering the collection, the command module traveled on a 50-state tour throughout 1970 and 1971 covering more than 26,000 miles. It then went on display in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building before the current National Air and Space Museum was built on the National Mall.

All the museums on the tour are Smithsonian Affiliates—members of a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The national tour includes:

  • Space Center Houston—Oct. 14, 2017–March 18, 2018
  • Saint Louis Science Center—April 14–Sept. 3, 2018
  • Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh—Sept. 29, 2018–Feb. 17, 2019
  • The Museum of Flight, Seattle—March 16–Sept. 2, 2019

Following the showing in Cincinnati, the Apollo 11 command module will take a place of honor in the new “Destination Moon” gallery at the museum, which will tell the story of human exploration of the moon, from ancient dreams to the Apollo program to the missions happening right now.

“Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” is made possible by 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. Transportation services for “Destination Moon” are provided by FedEx.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. Attendance at both buildings combined exceeded 9 million in 2016, making it the most visited museum in America. The museum’s research, collections, exhibitions and programs focus on aeronautical history, space history and planetary studies. Both buildings are open from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25).

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