History

Quiet and unassuming, Neil Armstrong might as well have been stopping his car on the beach of Grand Lake St. Mary’s in Auglaize County, Ohio, on July 20, 1969, rather than landing Apollo 11 on the moon.

But to the world it was a feat that until that moment had only been dreamt of. The Apollo 11 crew, made up of Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, circled earth several times in the command module Columbia checking all systems before heading to the moon. Upon arrival, Aldrin and Armstrong entered the lunar excursion module (LEM), Eagle. Collins continued to orbit the moon while the other two headed to the moon’s surface. A sigh of relief was heard around the world when they heard “The Eagle has landed.”

Armstrong descended the LEM’s ladder. As he stepped onto the moon’s surface, he stated, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The United States had bested the Soviet Union in the race to the moon and fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to do so before the end of the decade.

The Apollo 11 crew had completed the greatest journey in human history, putting men on the moon and setting the course for the future of the nation’s space program. From Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, across the United States, and around the world, people wanted to honor their feat.

The Museum

On the very day that they stepped foot on the moon, July 20, 1969, Ohio governor James Rhodes proposed a museum as a monument to the achievements of not only Armstrong but “all Ohioans who have attempted to defy gravity,” as well as to the history of the space program itself.

After the state of Ohio pledged $500,000 for the museum, Governor Rhodes challenged the local community to match, dollar for dollar, the funds to build the building. Wapakoneta residents met the challenge head on. Business and individuals alike donated to the cause. Even school children saved their pennies and nickels in order to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime project. The governor was presented with a check for $528,313.55 – of the total, over half had been raised by the citizens of Wapakoneta.

On July 20, 1972, three years to the day after Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum opened. As space exploration has evolved, so have the exhibits at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. However, the focus has remained the same: to stand as a repository of Ohio’s aeronautical history and a monument to Ohio’s contribution to aviation and space exploration from the early pioneer days through the space shuttle era.

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. It offers self-guided tours, guided school tours and programming and the museum is available to groups for rental for meetings and special events. Exhibits chronicle the space program from the early years of Neil Armstrong’s life to the Soviet Space Race, Gemini and Apollo missions, and the shuttle program. Visitors are invited to test their skill in a shuttle or lunar landing simulator. The museum gift shop offers a variety of items, including mission patches and a favorite – space ice cream! The grounds have exhibits, including an F5D Skylancer and Gemini and Apollo command modules. A picnic area is available. Sledding is not permitted on site.

The Museum participates annually in Wapakoneta’s Summer Moon Festival. This three day July event offers a variety of activities throughout the city. The museum offers special, scheduled programming on its grounds. For more information visit: http://www.summermoonfestival.com/

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. It offers self-guided tours, guided school tours and programming and the museum is available to groups for rental for meetings and special events. Exhibits chronicle the space program from the early years of Neil Armstrong’s life to the Soviet Space Race, Gemini and Apollo missions, and the shuttle program. Visitors are invited to test their skill in a shuttle or lunar landing simulator. Sit under a ceiling of stars in the Astro-theater as you watch brief multi-media programs on space exploration. Test your skill in landing on the moon or setting down the space shuttle.

Gift Shop & Grounds

The museum gift shop offers a variety of items, including mission patches and a favorite – space ice cream! The grounds have exhibits, including an F5D Skylancer and Gemini and Apollo command modules. A picnic area is available. Sledding is not permitted on site.

Geocaching

Have your GPS with you? Find the Armstrong geocache!