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Cincinnati Museum Center again looks to the stars with gallery expansion

Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery doubles permanent display August 27

CINCINNATI – The final frontier is coming to Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC). CMC is expanding The Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery, presented by the Harold C. Schott Foundation, adding three new content areas that will double the size of the gallery. The expansion will open to the public August 27.

The Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery opened in May 2019 with a focus on national hero and Cincinnatian Neil Armstrong and the historic Apollo 11 mission. The gallery is anchored by the Galaxy Theater, presented by Great American Insurance Group, a 360° immersive theater featuring an illuminated globe and wall and floor screens that captivates guests with the story of Armstrong’s life. The film chronicles Armstrong’s upbringing in small town Wapakoneta, service with the U.S. Navy and “small step” as commander of the Apollo 11 mission – culminating in the exhilarating story of the Apollo 11 mission itself using historic footage and audio. The gallery features a rare Moon rock collected during the Apollo 11 mission, the communications cap and flight jacket Armstrong wore on the mission and a replica of his iconic spacesuit. It also tells the stories of some of the 400,000 people who made the giant leap possible. The second phase of The Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery builds on Apollo 11’s legacy and looks to the future, inspiring the next 400,000 people to achieve humanity’s next giant leap.

“The expansion to The Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery is a dynamic blend of ancient astronomy, state-of-the-art technology and good old-fashioned wonder,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Cincinnati Museum Center is lucky to have called Neil Armstrong a friend and we know he would be thrilled to see we are continuing his legacy by inspiring a new generation of intrepid explorers.”

As it did for a young Neil Armstrong, space invites us to look up and wonder. The Imagine section of the gallery lets guests do just that, gazing at the stars any time of day as they reflect on historical and cross-cultural interpretations of the night sky represented by the official 88 constellations. Projections of celestial objects on the gallery’s overhead screen invite guests to look up as they learn about the sun, planets and other fascinating objects in our Milky Way galaxy. An interactive gravity floor simulation reflects how objects with mass warp space as a projection adjusts to the mass of each person or object moving over it. And the gallery helps answer basic astronomy questions, such as why we perceive the Moon in phases from our perspective on Earth, demonstrated through motions of a lunar replica overhead.

The vastness of space holds a great many unknowns, and the gallery encourages us to step out and explore our neighbors in the solar system, including asteroids and Mars. CMC is modifying elements of the Explore section to make them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new interactives include areas where guests can use coding to drive Mars rovers, direct compressed air to create craters (and rewatch the impact in slow motion) and simulate team-based astronaut training. Guests can even design their own mission to the International Space Station, Mars or the Moon by choosing the type of rocket, payload and team that will meet mission goals.

Echoing the response of astronauts who have gazed at their home world from space, the Protect gallery celebrates the Earth’s beauty and delicate fragility. Space exploration gives us new perspective on our planet, its unique conditions that support human life and our responsibility to protect it. NASA images and animations show Earth’s changing conditions over the past several decades: city lights where a forest once stood, shrinking ice caps, the dangerous bloom of a red tide and more. CMC’s beloved polar bear also finds a new home in the gallery as a gateway to CMC’s Ice Age exhibit, which will reopen in 2021.

CMC worked with Columbus-based exhibit firm Roto to develop the expansion of The Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery. Guests may be familiar with roto’s existing work inside CMC, including Shaping Our City in the Cincinnati History Museum and the Science Interactives Gallery (temporarily closed due to COVID-19 precautions) in the Museum of Natural History & Science.

The Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery will open with its expanded offerings and temporary modifications and safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic on August 27. The gallery remains open during construction of the new components.


About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of a select few museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation's 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually. For more information, visit