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After summer at ballparks, Armstrong suit statues head to museums

September 25, 2019

— Having spent the past baseball season rounding the plates, the Smithsonian is now sending its team of spacesuit statues home.

To new homes, that is.

The National Air and Space Museum is wrapping up its "Apollo at the Park" commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by relocating its Neil Armstrong spacesuit statues from the Major League Baseball (MLB) parks where they were displayed over the summer.

"Since June, baseball fans in 15 cities have had the opportunity to take photos and interact with the statues. Now visitors to museums and history centers near those same cities will have a chance to experience the lifelike suits for years to come," the Smithsonian announced on Tuesday (Sept. 24).

Beginning in October, the statues will be donated to locations in 10 states:

  • California — Columbia Memorial Space Center, Downey

  • California — Hiller Aviation Museum, San Francisco

  • Florida — Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Bay

  • Georgia — Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta

  • Illinois — Peoria Riverfront Museum, Peoria

  • Kansas — Cosmosphere, Hutchinson

  • Massachusetts — Framingham State University, Framingham

  • Michigan — Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience, Portage

  • Ohio — Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta

  • Ohio — Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland

  • Pennsylvania — Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh

  • Texas — Space Center Houston, Houston

Another of the statues will go to the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, Austria. The remaining two statues will be retained by the National Air and Space Museum in its permanent collection.

The statues, which replicate in detail the pressurized garment that astronaut Neil Armstrong wore during the Apollo 11 moon landing mission in 1969, were created using the data from 3-D scans conducted by the Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office as part of the original spacesuit's conservation. The real spacesuit was returned to display for the first time in 13 years at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC in July.

The statues were made out of a rigid resin to stand up to their outdoor displays at the ballparks. Each was hand painted to match the colors of the authentic artifact.

The statues also included an interactive feature. Smart phone cameras can be used to scan parts of the spacesuit, including the Apollo 11 mission patch, NASA insignia, American flag and glove gauntlet checklist, to access videos and details about the Apollo 11 mission and crew.

The National League baseball teams that had the "Apollo at the Park" spacesuit statues on display included the Atlanta Braves (SunTrust Park), Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field), Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park), Colorado Rockies (Coors Field), Pittsburgh Pirates (PNC Park), San Francisco Giants (Oracle Park) and Washington Nationals (Nationals Park).

The American League baseball teams included the Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park), Cleveland Indians (Progressive Field), Detroit Tigers (Comerica Park), Houston Astros (Minute Maid Park), Minnesota Twins (Target Field), New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium), Seattle Mariners (T-Mobile Park) and Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field).

The Smithsonian Digitization Program Office has posted to its website the files used to create the "Apollo at the Park" statues so the public can use the model in multimedia projects or 3-D print scale spacesuits as desired.


One of the National Air and Space Museum's 15 statues of Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit as displayed as part of "Apollo at the Park" at Minute Maid Park in Houston in July 2019. (cS)

National Air and Space Museum's "Apollo at the Park" logo. (SI)

The first of the "Apollo at the Park" statues was unveiled on June 4, 2019 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian)

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