Secret museum on the moon's surface

In November, 1969, the New York Times reported on the existence of a secret, miniature art museum that had been smuggled onto the surface of the moon on Apollo 12:

...according to Frosty Myers, the artist who initiated the project, the Moon Museum was secretly installed on a hatch on a leg of the Intrepid landing module with the help of an unnamed engineer at the Grumman Corporation after attempts to move the project forward through NASA's official channels were unsuccessful.

According to the Times, the artworks are, clockwise from the top center: Rauschenberg's wavy line; Novros' black square bisected by thin white lines [in 1969, Novros also created the incredibly rich, minimalist fresco on the second floor of Judd's 101 Spring St]; a computer-generated drawing by Myers; a geometric mouse by Oldenburg, "the subject of a sculpture in his current show at the Museum of Modern Art" [a sculpture which is in MoMA's permanent collection, btw]; and a template pattern by Chamberlain, "similar to one he used to produce paintings done with automobile lacquer." Warhol's contribution, which is obscured by the thumb above, is described as "a calligraphic squiggle made up of the initials of his signature."

Link (via Kottke)



  1. I can just imagine those artworks being the only surviving evidence of our species millions of years from now. Some poor alien linguist is going to go blind trying to translate them.

  2. What surprises me most reading this piece and then wandering into some other stuff about the Apollo 12 mission is what a clumsy goof Alan Bean was! (Well, by lunar astronaut standards anyway.)

    Not only did he forget to pack several rolls of exposed film when they were coming home and thus left them on the moon he also apparently borked their TV transmissions by pointing their camera into the sun while trying to set it up, and frying it. (Hmm, perhaps he had something to hide…)

    On the other hand, he did save the entire mission when he was the only one who could figure out how to force the backup telemetry systems to take over from the supposedly still working main systems after their data became garbled. If he hadn’t pulled that off, they’d have had to abort. So I guess he’d just used up his hero quotient for that flight and had to screw up a couple things for karmic balance.

  3. …what a clumsy goof Alan Bean was!

    Probably why he was played by Dave Foley. He was the one human astronaut. But he still walked on the moon!

  4. That’s no moon, that’s an art museum!

    Or, rather:

    That’s no art museum, that’s a little card with some squiggly lines on it!

  5. Probably why he was played by Dave Foley. He was the one human astronaut.

    Heh! Had to look that up on IMDB as I’ve never seen From the Earth to the Moon. Thanks for pointing it out.

    But to be sure, regardless, WALKED ON THE MOON!!

  6. I’ve never seen From the Earth to the Moon.

    It’s fantastic, one of the few DVDs (actually quite a few DVDs) that I own. The episode on designing the LEM is a great documentary on design process, and the one on teaching fighter pilots to be geologists is stellar. You’re made of stone if you don’t get dewy-eyed at the dedication of so many people to one seemingly impossible task.

  7. I sincerely wish that something like putting humans on the moon again will become a priority again. I don’t care if it seems wasteful–I have confidence that the problems posed will motivate quality discovery as it has before.

    In Kennedy’s moon speech the simple statement that we do these things “because they are hard” is something that remains true among the curious and is something I hold as a self-evident truth; that given a seemingly impossible challenge possessing some hope of success, the best and brightest appear in droves and kick ass.

    The best and brightest are a class of people who deserve to be rediscovered and appreciated. Race and social class be damned, the overall goal here is to improve humanity. Terrestrial goals fail to inspire, because we’re a single society mired in relative neighborhood bickering about retarded, simple crap courtesy of the colossal majority of dumbasses.

    I’m not excluding myself from the dumbass group, just appreciating it objectively. That said, give those/us dumbasses something shiny to look at, and those neighborhood problems become more obviously petty. Give us a shot at being part of the shiny thing and neighborhood troubles may disappear.

    I can’t remember where I was going with tis.

  8. A do-able mission, something bright and shiny, something kids would learn the meaning of “aspire” from,….. the recent film “Sunshine” comes to mind.

    How about L5 colonies? That and the moon? These are within our immediate reach. How to sell it to everyone? Maybe not. Just push to commercialize space and hope dreams follow.

    The big problem is going to be the military bullies that don’t want anyone else out there.

  9. How about putting people on the sun? But this time, let’s not use pilots. Let’s give the politicians a chance for some glory. A parting gift perhaps.

  10. I immediately thought that this could be very dangerous. Every mathematical formulation is calibrated to the Nth degree with space-going projects. By attaching something somewhere secretly, couldn’t you inadvertently endanger people’s lives?

  11. @ #10 Hmmm … like “gaijin” or “nanban”?

    But seriously, you’re quite right, and I’m sorry if I offended anyone. I blame extreme sleep dep/stress.

    I *do* think it’s really cool that both the Chinese and the Japanese have orbiters up there right now.

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