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Dayton Art Institute 'Moon Museum' Exhibit Marks Anniversary Of Apollo 11 Landing

Jerry Kenney
DAI Chief Curator, Dr. Jerry Smith, talks to museum visitors about The Moon Museum's history. Pictured are Karen Kind of Springboro (Left) and Laurie Mattern (Center), originally of Huber Heights now living in Germany.

A new exhibit on display at the Dayton Art Institute pays homage to the Apollo 11 moon landing a half-century ago. The Moon Museum exhibit opened at the end of June and features some unique items.

DAI Chief Curator Jerry Smith says he’s thrilled to have the show on display in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

“I’ve wanted to show this [exhibit] for a long time, and so having this opportunity and doing it where it will coincide with July 20th, the anniversary date is just perfect,” he says.

Front and center in the exhibit is one of a series of tiny ceramic tiles created before the Apollo 11 launch. One of the tiles is said to have been placed on the lunar module’s landing gear, which remains on the moon to this day.

Smith says the tiles were smaller than a postage stamp and created using new technologies being being developed at the time by Bell Telephone Laboratories.

The DAI’s displayed tile features drawings by several artists including conceptual artist Forrest Myers, working with Bell, John Chamberlain, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

The tiny ceramic tile and the even smaller works of art it contains make up what’s known as “The Moon Museum.”

And Smith says curators have gathered other Moon-centric works of art to display along with it in Dayton.   

“This is a fabulous way to kind of enjoy and consider the achievements of the NASA landing in 1969 50 years ago, and a great way to show off some of the things from the museum's collection.” 

Other items in the collection are a 100-year-old Japanese silk screen, a collection of Apollo 11 photos, and a stunning Ansel Adams gelatin silver print called Moonrise Hernandez New Mexico, taken in 1941. 

The black-and-white photograph was created from the one and only negative of the original image and remains one of Adams’ most famous images. 

The Moon Museum exhibit will be on display through September 8, 2019 and is part of the DAI’s “100 Happenings for 100 Years,” as the museum celebrates its centennial in 2019.

Hear the full interview with Dr. Jerry Smith, as heard on WYSO Weekend.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.
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