Bringing an Object to Life is the topic for the Smithsonian’s What’s New in Aerospace? Series and presented in collaboration with NASA. In this segment, researchers preparing objects for an exhibit require more than just selecting something from a list. Conservators must examine the object, treat problems they see, and ensure the object has proper support for the duration of its display. At the National Air and Space Museum, a team including the exhibition curator, a conservator, a designer, and an object mount maker collaborated on bringing one special object to the Museum floor for the first time. After his Apollo 17 moonwalk, Gene Cernan returned his Oxygen Purge System cover to Earth, and NASA sealed it in a package just weeks after the mission’s completion. For decades, it sat untouched and virtually unknown in Museum storage until it was rediscovered in 2013 and became a candidate for the new Outside the Spacecraft: Fifty Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity exhibition.
This What’s New in Aerospace? program tells the story of the inclusion of the object in the exhibition and how Museum conservator Lisa Young prepares an object for display using microscopic examination of the materials. The exhibition’s curator, Jennifer Levasseur, and a representative from the United Technologies Corporation also spoke about the design and construction of life support systems for work outside the spacecraft.