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Author Topic:   Holocaust Museum Houston: STS-135 butterfly
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-20-2011 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Holocaust Museum Houston release [via The Houston Chronicle SciGuy Eric Berger]
Space Shuttle Astronaut Presents Historic Artifact to Holocaust Museum Houston in Honor of Astronaut Ilan Ramon

Amid all the media frenzy surrounding the last flight of the space shuttle, one small event went completely unnoticed. NASA astronaut Rex Walheim privately created a small butterfly while in flight aboard the Atlantis to be presented to Holocaust Museum Houston in honor of astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

Walheim presented the historic artifact, a pencil-on-paper-drawing created on his own personal shuttle mission notebook, during the last flight of the shuttle Atlantis, to the Museum at the official launch of the 2012 Butterfly Project Calendar on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Deutsch & Deutsch Fine Jewelry.

Credit: Holocaust Museum Houston/Dave Rossman

Above: Rex Walheim with butterfly hand drawn aboard the last flight of the space shuttle Atlantis in honor of Ilan Ramon and in memory of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. Walheim also presented the Museum with an American flag carried aboard the shuttle.

The butterfly – with its story of rebirth and transformation into new life – has become a symbol of freedom from oppression, intolerance and hatred ever since Pavel Friedmann, a young boy held captive in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, wrote his poem "The Butterfly."

A total of 12,000 children under the age of 15 passed through the Terezin concentration camp from 1942 to 1944. Less than 90 percent survived. To remember all of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust, Holocaust Museum Houston is collecting 1.5 million butterflies prepared from arts and crafts materials for a breathtaking exhibition that all will remember, now scheduled for early 2014. More than 900,000 butterflies have already been collected from children around the world.

Walheim's historic contribution to the project in memory of the 1.5 million and in honor of former astronaut Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut and the son of a Holocaust survivor, will go on public display at the Museum's Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., beginning Nov. 1 and remain on display through Dec. 31 before being added to the Museum's permanent institutional archives in preparation for the more extensive exhibit of all 1.5 million butterflies. Admission is free.

Credit: Holocaust Museum Houston/Dave Rossman

Above: The hand drawn butterfly created by astronaut Rex Walheim aboard the last flight of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Museum Executive Director Susan Myers noted that Ilan Ramon had strong ties to the Museum. The Museum hosted the special exhibit "Ilan Ramon: Remembering a Hero, Remembering a Friend," in January 2004. The exhibit, which Ramon's widow Rona attended, included letters and works of art sent to the Ramon family after the Columbia tragedy. The exhibit also included several items that Col. Ramon had carried replicas of into space such as the original "Moon Landscape" drawing by Petr Ginz, a young Holocaust victim.

This contribution to our project is absolutely incredible," Myers said. "Ilan and Rona Ramon had both been to our Museum and had both participated in programming here. To see Ilan honored in such an important way is truly uplifting. I know it will encourage thousands of other children, schools, groups and churches to contribute their own butterflies to complete our 2014 exhibition."

Ramon died on Feb. 1, 2003 over the southern United States when the shuttle Columbia and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to its scheduled landing.

Walheim joked with the group that he was not much of an artist and had to ask NASA lead graphic designer Sean Collins (who was present with wife Cindy) beforehand for instructions on how to draw the butterfly. Collins gave the Museum a signed copy of the hand drawn, four step instructions he gave Walheim.

Walheim said he initially tried to draw the butterfly with a pen, but that didn't work in space so he had to switch to pencil on paper.

"I did this because I know it most certainly was something Ilan would have done had he been able," Walheim told the crowd of about 150 people at the event. Walheim stayed more than a half hour after the presentation to sign copies of the Butterfly Project calendar.

Museum Chair Tali Blumrosen noted that the calendar this year "is intended to ask people to think about the lost potential of those 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust, to give thought to what they could have been and what the world may have lost with their deaths."

"In his own way, Ilan Ramon shows the world a true example of what those lives could have been. His own family's life was torn apart by the Holocaust. His mother and grandmother lived through Auschwitz, and despite such tragedy, he went on with life, completed his studies and became the first Israeli astronaut, the first non-American recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor," she said.

Credit: Holocaust Museum Houston/Dave Rossman

Above: Walheim with the American flag carried aboard the shuttle that he also presented to the Museum.

The event, co-chaired by Patti Kagan and Erica Levit, included the unveiling of the 2012 commemorative calendar to help generate interest in the upcoming exhibit. The calendars are available in the Museum store for $10 or can be purchased online for $10 plus $5 for shipping and handling.

The Butterfly Project is based on the book "...I never saw another butterfly..." Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944 and includes a curriculum geared to demonstrate the individuality and creativity of children, past and present, and create a connection between today's students and the Holocaust's youngest victims.

Class activities are centered around the children listed in the book, asking students to think about those children, what they were witnessing, why they were writing or drawing and what they were referring to.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston's Museum District.

All times are CT (US)

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