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Where today are the Apollo 11 Lunar Sample Displays?

In November 1969, then-U.S. President Richard Nixon requested that NASA create approximately 250 displays containing lunar surface material and the flags of 135 nations, U.S. possessions and states.

Each presentation included 0.05 grams of Apollo 11 moon dust, in the form of four small pieces encased in an acrylic button, as well as the flag of the recipient nation or state, also flown on the first manned lunar landing mission.

The displays that were presented to foreign heads of state included the inscription:

Presented to the People of ____________ by Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America.

This Flag of Your Nation was Carried to the Moon and Back by Apollo 11 and This Fragment of the Moon's Surface was Brought to Earth by the Crew of That First Manned Lunar Landing.

(With exception to the plaque for Venezuela: it was discovered that the nation's flag was not flown aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Instead, a flag carried on Apollo 12 was used with the wording: "This flag of your nation was carried to the moon and back, and this fragment of the moon's surface was brought to Earth by the crew of the first manned lunar landing.")

Distribution of the lunar sample displays

Once gifted, each of the lunar sample displays became the property of the recepient entity and therefore was no longer subject to being tracked by NASA. All other lunar samples' locations are well documented by the U.S. space agency to this day (with exception to similarly gifted Apollo 17 goodwill moon rocks).

As property of the nation or state, the Apollo 11 lunar samples are now subject to the laws for public gifts as set by that country. In most cases, as in the United States, public gifts cannot be legally transferred to individual ownership without the passage of additional legislation.

Since 2005, collectSPACE has attempted to locate the current whereabouts of all the Apollo 11 lunar sample displays. The following chart details those efforts.

Special gratitude is extended to former NASA Office of Inspector General special agent Joseph Gutheinz, who today as a professor at the University of Phoenix, Arizona, has challenged his students to locate the displays.

Do you know the current status of an Apollo 11 display? Write us at moonrocks@collectspace.com


Nation / State   Location / Status  
Photo
  Located By

Afghanistan

 

 

 

Albania

 

 

 

Algeria

 

 

 

Andorra

 

 

 

Argentina

   

 

I. Danforth
R. Tohmé
P. de León

Australia

 

National Archives of Australia, "Memory of a Nation" exhibit, Canberra

 

 

K. Dougherty

Austria

   

 

M. Köberl

Barbados

 

 

 

Belgium

   

 

T. Sterling/
Associated Press

Bhutan

 

 

 

Bolivia

 

 

 

Botswana

 

Botswana National Museum (National Museum and Art Gallery), Gaborone (as of 2006)

   

E. Ray

Brazil

 

 

 

Bulgaria

 

   

Burma

 

 

 

Burundi

 

   

Cambodia

 

 

 

Cameroon

 

   

Canada

 

 

 

Central African Republic

 

   

Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

   

 

M. Rodrigo/
SundayTimes
T. Heenatigala

Chad

 

   

Chile

   

 

C. Gómez

China

 

   

Colombia

   

 

J. Russo

Congo (Brazzaville)

 

   

Congo (Kinshasa)

 

 

 

Costa Rica

 

Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose (in storage)

 
 

R. Fernando

Cuba

 

 

 

Cyprus

 

   

Czechslovakia

 

Vojenský historický ústav (Military History Institute), Prague

 

 

V. Michálek

Dahomey

 

   

Denmark

 

Geological Museum, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen

 

 

L. Aagaard/
Berlingske

Dominican Republic

   
 

E. Garcia

Ecuador

 

 

 

El Salvador

 

   

Equatorial Guinea

 

 

 

Ethiopia

 

   

Finland

   

 

J. Oswick

France

     

J. Gutheinz

Gabon

 

 

 

Gambia

 

   

Germany

   

 

U. Lotzmann

Ghana

 

   

Greece

 

 

 

Guatemala

 

Held by the Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte (Ministry of Culture and Sport), Guatemala City

 

 

J. Cabrera
H. Ramírez

Guinea

 

 

 

Guyana

 

   

Haiti

 

 

 

Honduras

 

   

Hungary

   

 

E. Ray

Iceland

 

Held in storage at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, Garðabær

 
 

K. Jónasson

India

 

   

Indonesia

 

 

 

Iran

 

   

Iraq

 

 

 

Ireland

 

Accidentally discarded after an Oct. 3, 1977 fire destroyed the Meridian room at Dunsink Observatory, Dublin, where it had been on display. Now among the rubble at the Finglas landfill (dump).

   

C. Luff

Israel

 

 

 

Italy

 

   

Ivory Coast

 

 

 

Jamaica

 

   

Japan

   

 

T. Sterling/
Associated Press

Jordan

 

   

Kenya

 

 

 

Korea

   
 

Kuwait

 

 

 

Laos

 

"Haw Kham" Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang

 

 

T. Brattstrom

Photo: D. Smirnov

Lebanon

 

 

 

Lesotho

 

   

Liberia

 

 

 

Libya

 

   

Liechtenstein

 

 

 

Luxembourg

   
 

P. Buchholz

Madagascar

 

 

 

Malawi

 

   

Malaysia

 

Natural History Museum, Putrajaya (in storage)

 
 

P. Ang

Maldive Islands

 

National Museum, Sultan Park, Malé

 

 

K. MacTaggart

Mali

 

 

 

Malta

   
 

Mauritania

 

 

 

Mexico

     

R. Zúñiga

Monaco

 

 

 

Mongolia

 

   

Morocco

 

 

 

Muscat and Oman

 

   

Nauru

 

 

 

Nepal

 

National Museum of Nepal, Kathmandu

   

T. Sterling/
Associated Press

Netherlands

   

 

E. Laan

New Zealand

 

Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

 
 

Nicaragua

 

Purchased (under questionable circumstances) by Las Vegas casino owner Bob Stupak in November 1987 for $10,000 and 200,000 shares of stock. Three years after his passing, the display is being returned by his attorney Richard Wright to the people of Nicaragua by way of NASA.

 
 

J.L. Smith/
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Photo credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Niger

 

   

Nigeria

 

 

 

Norway

 

Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim

 

 

G. Haugnes/
Aftenposten

Pakistan

 

 

 

Panama

 

   

Paraguay

 

Instituto de Historia y Museo Militar, Asunción

 

 

J. Russo

Peru

 

   

Philippines

 

 

 

Poland

   
 

T. Sterling/
M. Scislowska/
Associated Press

Photo: A. S. Pilski

Portugal

 

 

 

Romania

   
 

D. Ionascu / jurnalul.ro

Rwanda

 

 

 

San Marino

 

   

Saudi Arabia

 

 

 

Senegal

 

   

Sierra Leone

 

 

 

Singapore

   

 

C. Baaijens

Somalia

 

 

 

South Africa

 

On display in the old Cape Colony Parliament building, Parliament, Cape Town

 
 

K. Gottschalk

Photo: C. Huegel

Southern Yemen

 

 

 

Soviet Union

   
 

S. Misetsky
A. Korobeynikov

Spain

 

 

 

Sudan

 

   

Swaziland

 

 

 

Sweden

 

Reported stolen from Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (National Museum of Natural History) in Stockholm in 2002

   

J. Persson

Switzerland

 

focusTerra, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich

 

 

M. Meier

Syria

 

   

Taiwan

   

 

Tanzania

 

 

 

Thailand

 

   

Togo

 

 

 

Trinidad and Tobago

 

   

Tunisia

 

 

 

Turkey

 

   

Uganda

 

 

 

United Arab Republic

 

   

United Kingdom

 

10 Downing Street (in the study), London

 

 

Upper Volta

 

   

Uruguay

 

Previously on display at the Planetarium of Montevideo; moved in 2011 to the Captain Boiso Lanza Air Base for safe keeping.

 

 

C. Alustiza

Venezuela

 

   

Vietnam

 

 

 

Western Samoa

 

   

Yemen

 

 

 

Yugoslavia

 

Museum of Yugoslav History, Muzej 25 Maj (Museum of the 25th of May), Belgrad, Serbia

 
 

J. Igor
T. Sterling/
Associated Press

Zambia

 

 

 

United Nations

 

 

 

Vatican City

   
 
     

Alabama

 

Held in storage by the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery

 

 

J. Hardin

Alaska

 

Transferred to the Transportation Branch of the Alaska State Museum (Alaska Transportation Museum), Anchorage, where it was on display when a 1973 fire tore through the museum. Claimed as found among the debris by Arthur Coleman Anderson, 17, and removed as a "neat souvenir."

In December 2010, Anderson filed suit (PDF) against the State of Alaska to declare him the owner of the rock or to compensate him for care of the moon rock since 1973.

In August 2012, in compliance with a court order, Anderson turned over the display to NASA for "verification and safekeeping until eventual ownership is established." In September 2012, Anderson surrendered the display to the state of Alaska.

As of December 2012, on display at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.

 

 

Arizona

 

Currently in safekeeping by the Arizona Historical Society while the Arizona Mining and Minerals Museum, Phoenix becomes part of the new Arizona Centennial Museum.

 

 

A. Nystrom
M. Barkley

Arkansas

   

 

B. Jordan

California

   

 

F. French

Colorado

 

Removed in July 2010 from the State Capitol Building, Denver (third floor, next to Dome Desk) and placed into storage while a more secure display is devised.

 

 

R. Griffis

Connecticut

 

Museum of Connecticut History, State Library, Hartford

 

 

Y. Yeomans

Delaware

 

"...stolen [in 1976] right off the plaque" per Ann Baker Horsey, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs

 

 

L. Marianiello
P. George/DFM News

Florida

 

Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee (in storage)

 

 

R. Griffis
K. Friedman

Georgia

 

State Capitol Building (fourth floor, case no. 1), Atlanta

 

 

J. Smart
B. Teetzen
A. Rasmusson

Hawaii

 

Rediscovered after a routine inventory of gifts inside a cabinet in the Executive Chambers on the fifth floor of the Hawai'i State Capitol, Honolulu

 

 

J. Gutheinz
W. Hoover/ Honolulu Advertiser

Idaho

   

 

J. Newton

Illinois

   

 

L. Moore

Indiana

 

Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis (in storage)

 

 

J. McGauley

Iowa

   

 

J. Sahagun

Kansas

   

 

B. McCalester-Turner

Kentucky

 

Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort (in storage)

 

 

B. Officer

Louisiana

 

 

 

Maine

 

State Museum, Augusta

 

 

L. Applewhite

Maryland

   

 

S. Freeman
E. Ray

Massachusetts

   

 

V. Wolf

Michigan

   

 

C. Keller
T. Hale

Photo: T. Wirt

Minnesota

 

Found amongst military artifacts in a storage area at the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul; transferred by the Minnesota National Guard to the Minnesota Historical Society (as of Nov. 28, 2012).

 

 

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

Mississippi

   

 

I. Washington

Missouri

 

Missouri State Museum, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City

 

 

K. Keil

Montana

   

 

A. Egbeyemi

Nebraska

 

Lost in the governor's mansion for a number of years. Found by Diane Nelson, former Gov. Ben Nelson's wife, as the mansion was undergoing renovations.

Now on public display at the Ralph Mueller Planetarium at the University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln.

 

 

R. Dunn

Nevada

 

Nevada State Museum, Carson City (in storage)

 

 

R. Stoldal
C. Lygren/ KOLO-TV

New Hampshire

   

 

T. Taber

New Jersey

 

New Jersey State Museum, Trenton (wooden podium display with the New Jersey flag held in storage)

 

 

New Mexico

   

 

V. Avila

New York

 

 

 

North Carolina

   

 

North Dakota

 

State Historical Society, Bismarck (in storage)

 

 

P. Depweg
R. Dates

S. Silengo and
M. Halvorson/
Historical Society

Ohio

   

 

D. Holder

Oklahoma

   

 

R. Niang-Casey

Oregon

 

State Capitol Building (second floor, Governor's ceremonial office), Salem

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

Planetarium, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg

 

 

Rhode Island

 

State Library, State House (second floor), Providence

 

 

J. Brooks
T. Evans

South Carolina

   

 

E. Ray

South Dakota

   

 

S. Little

Tennessee

 

Tennessee State Museum, Nashville (in archives)

 

 

Texas

 

Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock (in storage)

 

 

E. Ray

Utah

 

 

 

Vermont

 

held in the collection of the Vermont Historical Society, Barre

 

 

M. Guice

Virginia

 

The Library of Virginia, Richmond (on temporary display)

Previously exhibited in the Capitol

 

 

M. Townes

Washington

   

 

M. Hammer

West Virginia

   

 

E. Velez

Wisconsin

 

Wisconsin Historical Museum, Madison (in storage)

 

 

E. Ray

Wyoming

   
 

I. Lothamer

District of Columbia

 

 

 

Guam

 

held in a vault, awaiting completion of the Gaum Museum, Hagatna

 
 

R. Griffis

Puerto Rico

 

La Fortaleza (Palacio de Santa Catalina), San Juan

 
 

V. Scott

Virgin Islands

 

 

 

American Samoa

   

 

A. Stafford


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