On July 20, 1969, half a billion viewers around the world watched as the Apollo 11 mission beamed back to earth the first television footage of American astronauts on the moon. This groundbreaking moment dramatically influenced the history of images and expanded the bounds of human perception. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present visual representations of the moon from the dawn of photography through the present in the exhibition Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography. Opening on July 3, the show will feature more than 170 photographs together with a selection of related drawings, prints, paintings, films, video art, astronomical instruments, and cameras used by Apollo astronauts.
The exhibition is made possible by OMEGA.
Additional support is provided by the Enterprise Holdings Endowment and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.
Apollo’s Muse will trace the progress of astronomical photography and attempts to produce ever-sharper images of the moon. Highlights will include two newly discovered lunar daguerreotypes from the 1840s, believed to be the earliest existing photographs of the moon, and works by such pioneers of lunar photography as Warren De La Rue (1815–1889), Lewis Morris Rutherfurd (1816–1892), and John Adams Whipple (1822–1891). A stunning photographic atlas of the moon, produced at the Paris Observatory between 1894 and 1908 by the astronomers Maurice Loewy (1833–1907) and Pierre Puiseux (1855–1928), will be displayed for the first time in its entirety.
Alongside these scientific achievements, the show will explore the use of the camera to create fanciful depictions of space travel and life on the moon, including George Méliès’s (1861–1938) original drawings for his film A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune, 1902) and a large selection of “paper moon” studio portraits from the early 20th century. Also featured will be artists' evocations of the otherworldly effects of moonlight, including major works by German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) and American Pictorialist photographer Edward Steichen (1879–1973).
Advances in rocket science and the Cold War space race of the 1960s ushered in a new phase of lunar exploration. The exhibition will feature stunning photographs captured by early lunar expeditions sent by the Soviet and American space programs, culminating in the crewed missions of the Apollo program. The final section of the show will focus on art created in the wake of the 1969 Moon landing through the present day, including works by Nancy Graves (1940–1995), Aleksandra Mir (born 1967), Nam June Paik (1932–2006), and Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008).