Published: January 16, 2001
To the Moon and Beyond at the Bruce Museum
GREENWICH, CONN. – The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science presents its major winter exhibition “: To the Moon and Beyond” through April 15. The exhibition showcases life and travel in outer space as conceived by the visions of artists, photographers and writers, and through the contributions of scientists and astronauts who made the spectacular realities of space exploration possible.
The exhibition features paintings, drawings, photographs, technical drawings, books, sculptures, artifacts, scale models, video clips and hardware, as well as an authentic moon rock brought back during the historic US Apollo space missions. Divided into three segments, “: To the Moon and Beyond” covers the past, present and future of space exploration in segments titled “Prelude to Space Travel,” “The Race for the Moon” and “The Solar System and Beyond.”
The museum’s science and exhibition staff and guest curators Tess Kissinger and Bob Walters have assembled a broad collection of exhibition display materials, including loans from such distinguished organizations and institutions as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Art Program, Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Orlando Museum of Art, as well as private collectors and individual artists.
The exhibition opens with works by the early dreamers of space from the Nineteenth to mid-Twentieth Centuries. Representing a long-running human fascination with other worlds, examples include Winslow Homer’s “Rocket Ship” (1849), an early edition of Jules Verne’s “De La Terre a la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon)” and sequel “Autour La Lune (Around The Moon),” dated 1870, and a Nineteenth Century lithograph by French astronomer E. Leopold Trouvelot, on loan from the Fairfield County Astronomical Society of Stamford Museum.
“Prelude to Space Travel” also includes more recent art and artifacts leading to the development of national space programs in the United States and the Soviet Union. Illustrations from the late 1940s through the 1950s by Chesley Bonestell had more than just a profound influence on the space artists that came after him – he essentially invented the field. His work also had a direct influence in developing public acceptance and enthusiasms for the US manned space program.
Original illustrations by Bonestell and others are on view, along with original issues of magazines such as Popular Science Monthly, Collier’s Magazine and Science & Invention, which published the art. During the 1950s the dreams of space travel became a reality beginning with the launch of the first satellite in space, the Soviet’s Sputnik. Items as diverse as science fiction film clips, the hood ornament from a 1950s Oldsmobile Rocket 88, and a Sputnik music box demonstrate the building interest in space as a destination.
As American-Soviet competition for supremacy in space heated up, the United States’ manned space program began documenting its efforts through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) formal space art program. The second section, “Race for the Moon,” features art commissioned through NASA Art Program, which began in 1963, including paintings and drawings by Robert Rauschenberg, Ron Miller, Vincent di Fate, Henry Caselli, Jamie Wyeth, Paul Calle, Robert McCall, and many others who were eyewitnesses to the events. Their interpretations are particularly valued in their ability to convey to future generations some of the wonder and excrdf_Descriptionent of the space age. NASA photographs of Apollo missions and images from the Hubble Space Telescope provide contrast between artistic interpretation and photo documentation.
NASA is also loaning the museum an astronaut space suit, a large-scale model of the Shuttle Orbiter and very rare moon rock. This moon rock was collected by Apollo astronauts from a mare region and is known as sample 70035.42. it weighs 77.034 grams or about 2.75 ounces and is composed of granular basalt with very small crystals of plagioclase, augite, olivine, and ilmenite. The sample is mounted in a clear pyramidal plastic stand and represents a crowning achievement of the United States lunar program.
Looking at the future of space exploration, “The Solar System and Beyond” presents the concept that, just as early visionaries prophesied the reality of space travel, contemporary artists describe space adventures that may come true. The final section features a large-scale painting, “A Vision of the Future,” by artist Robert T. McCall. Works by contemporary sculptors such as Josh Simpson and Robert Perless, a Greenwich, Conn. resident are also included.
The Bruce Museum is at 1 Museum Drive. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday 1 to 5 pm. For information, 203/869-0376.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm