Apollo 8 Artifacts Tell the Story of Exploration

Smithsonian Museum registrar to install items used on famous 1968 mission

Items used by astronauts aboard the Apollo 8 mission will be installed June 3 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum as part of "The 1968 Exhibit," opening Saturday, June 7, 2014. A registrar from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum will be in Austin Tuesday to oversee installation of the artifacts on loan as part of the traveling exhibit organized by the Minnesota History Center in partnership with the Atlanta History Center, the Chicago History Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. "The 1968 Exhibit" will be hosted by the Bullock Museum in Austin from June 7 through September 1, 2014, in the Herzstein Hall. The artifacts are on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

**Installation Event

  • What: Installation of 1968 Apollo 8 artifacts, including a full-scale replica of the Apollo 8 command module , a helmet worn by Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr.; a flight checklist used by Apollo 8 Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders; and a chronograph, or watch, worn by Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman.
  • Who: Erik Satrum, Head Registrar, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
  • When: 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 3, 2014
  • Where: Bullock Texas State History Museum - Herzstein Hall - 1st floor
  • 1800 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas

About "The 1968 Exhibit"

"The 1968 Exhibit" examines the social forces that swirled through the turbulent 1960s and crested in 1968. The exhibit brings to life this pivotal American year through photographs, music, television broadcasts, artifacts, vintage pop culture items and interactives at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Presented chronologically by the months of the year, the exhibit experience begins in January, 1968, with a Huey helicopter that has "landed" in a circa-1960s American living room. Significant events are highlighted each month, including the peak of the Vietnam War, riots and demonstrations across the country, and the tragic assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

The exhibit ends in December on hopeful note with the successful U.S. Apollo 8 manned space flight. It was the first time mankind had orbited the moon, and the mission produced the first-ever images of Earth taken from space.

"The Apollo 8 mission was an amazing technological feat in so many ways," Director of Exhibits Margaret Koch said. "It gave us one of the most beautiful and iconic images of all time, 'Earthrise,' taken while orbiting the moon by astronaut William Anders. It also provided the very first live television coverage of the moon's surface from space."

In the special exhibit, visitors hear details of this event unfold through the dramatic television newscasts made by Texan Walter Cronkite, as he follows the Apollo 8 launch on December 21, 1968 and its safe landing back to Earth six days later. Items from the manned space flight directed by NASA's mission control in Houston include a helmet worn by Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr.; a flight checklist used by Apollo 8 Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders; and a chronograph, or watch, worn by Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman.

"We are privileged to have not just one, but three, artifacts from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum that were used by the astronauts on their amazing journey," Koch said. The Apollo 8 artifacts will be on view in the exhibit with the replica space capsule, so visitors can get a close-up, first-hand look at the history of space exploration.

Three interactive lounges in the exhibit focus on the music, design, movies and television that shaped a generation. While in the exhibit, visitors will be able to cast a vote in the '68 presidential election, listen to music by '60s rock icons, and challenge friends to a quiz show about the 1960s.


The Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin includes three floors of exhibitions, an IMAX® theater, a special-effects theater, café, and Museum Store. The Museum collaborates with more than 700 museums, libraries, archives and individuals to display original historical artifacts and produce exhibitions that illuminate and celebrate Texas history and culture. Named for the state's 38th Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock, the iconic building is at 1800 N. Congress Avenue. For more, visit TheStoryofTexas.com or call (512) 936-8746.