How did you get an airplane inside the building? Is there life on other planets? What EXACTLY is GPS and how does it work? Why in the world is that in this museum?
We hear these questions every day. There’s so much that goes on in museums that people just don’t understand. And there are a lot of interesting artifacts tucked into smaller galleries that visitors simply don’t notice. Then there are the GREAT stories behind every artifact – stories that just don’t fit on a label. For instance, have you ever wondered how we acquired Gene Kranz’s famous “Failure is NOT an option” white vest? Did you know that Wilbur Wright, while playing with a cardboard box, figured out an essential component for controlling an aircraft? How about what really happened at Roswell, NM? Or about the time Howard Hughes….
Before I started working at the National Air and Space Museum I hadn’t heard these stories either. There are so many of them, and since I work in the Museum I get to hear them from our curators, conservators, scientists, and archivists all the time. What’s that? You’d like to hear them as well? Guess what? You can. Every Wednesday at noon we dust off one of the curators, conservators, scientists, or archivists and send one onto the museum floor during lunch to tell these stories. Each Ask an Expert talk runs about 15 minutes and then they take time to answer your questions. If you can’t make it, we record many of the talks and post them on our website. However, if you’ve got time during lunch and you’d like to join us, check out our calendar for a list of upcoming talks. I learn something new at every lecture, and I’ve been listening to our experts for years!
Beth Wilson is the Discovery Station Program Coordinator for the Mall Building.