Davenport, Iowa’s Putnam Museum celebrated its newest exhibition, Destination: Space, on Friday, January 25, with a live NASA space call from astronauts aboard Expedition 34, currently on board the International Space Station. Area school children packed the museum’s 264 seat National Geographic Giant Screen Theater for this once-in-a-lifetime event, carried live on NASA Television and on the agency’s web site. The Putnam Museum is one of just six venues in the United States selected to host a call from space this year. NASA granted the Putnam Museum the honor following an extensive application process.
Several students were given the opportunity to ask questions of astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn, who alternately answered the questions, tossing the microphone to each other through zero gravity. Daniel asked, “What is your favorite part of living in space?” Answer: “So much of it is special.” But some of their favorite things are “living in zero gravity and looking out the window.” Caden asked, “What can you see from the International Space Station?” Answer: “We can see the Earth like a big ball. The window is a very popular place to be. We go around the Earth every 90 minutes…we can see the stars but they don’t twinkle…we can see the sun and moon like we do from Earth.” The 15-minute session closed with the astronauts floating around in the zero gravity they enjoy.
The Destination: Space exhibition, sponsored by Alcoa, opens to the public on Saturday January 26, and requires the purchase of an Exhibit Hall Ticket. The exhibition includes pieces on loan from NASA, as well as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) interactive sections on astronauts, space communications, engineering and materials science, which will remain permanently with the museum. The exhibition explores how Earth has been improved by space exploration, as well as what it takes to enter the “final frontier.”
The Putnam Museum of Natural History and Science, founded in 1867, was one of the first museums west of the Mississippi River and currently houses over 170,000 items. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the Putnam museum often hosts traveling Smithsonian exhibits. They are also home to one of a few National Geographic Giant Screen Theaters, in which they show both first-run and classic movies. Their collection of National Geographic documentary films is ideal for school groups.
The museum, located at 1717 W. 12th Street in Davenport, Iowa, is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Davenport is about three hours west of Chicago, just over the border from Illinois, off of Interstate 80.
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