New Mexico Museum of Space History Celebrates 40 Years

Feb 25, 2016

  On October 5, 1976, the International Space Hall of Fame (ISHF) opened its doors to the public. The brainchild of then Alamogordo Mayor Dwight Ohlinger, the project to create the ISHF enjoyed massive public support from the community, the state, and organizations from across the globe. The opening was marked with much fanfare, including several days of activities that featured an International Academy of Astronautics conference, a parade, rocket launches, dedication ceremony and the first Induction into the Hall of Fame.

According to an article in the Alamogordo Daily News, “A parade among parades seems to best describe the pageantry of color and creativity which will flow up Indian Wells Road at 10 am Oct. 5 to herald the opening of one of America’s newest institutes to honor the last frontier and pioneers in that field. “A Past to Remember, and a Future to Mold” is the theme of the event. New Mexico and at least three other states have entries in the parade, including marching bands, groups of riders and spectacular floats which will defy the imagination as to the authenticity of the subjects depicted thereon.”

Forty years later, the ISHF has evolved into the New Mexico Museum of Space History which incorporates not only the Hall of Fame, but exhibits on the past and future of man’s quest for space, a significant archive of space related artifacts, a giant screen theater and planetarium, and an education program that reaches out to thousands of school students each year. The museum plays host to more than 90,000 visitors each year and a recent study indicates that its visitors contribute more than $10 million in tourism dollars to the local community on an annual basis.

The museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary with several signature events beginning onMarch 1. In recognition of the museum becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2013, Governor Susana Martinez declared March 1 as “New Mexico Museum of Space History Day” and made it a free day at the museum for New Mexico residents. As part of the museum’s 40thAnniversary Celebration, the Tombaugh Theater will be offering “buy one, get one free” tickets all day.

On Saturday, March 12, the museum will join the Smithsonian Institution and hundreds of cultural institutions across the country in celebrating a nationwide campaign to reach women and girls in underserved communities with a special edition of Museum Day LIVE! Held during Women's History Month, this “special edition” of Smithsonian’s signatureMuseum Day LIVE! event encourages all people, and particularly women and girls of color, to explore their nation’s museums, cultural institutions, zoos, aquariums, parks and libraries—which will offer free admission for the day to those who download the free ticket from the Smithsonian website, Tickets are available online now through March 1. Each ticket is good for two guests.

For Museum Day LIVE!, the museum will present a speaker series featuring women in STEM careers. Headlining the series will be Ginger Kerrick, flight director at Johnson Space Center, Joining her will be Lt. Col. Sheryl Ott, Commander of the 49th Operations Support Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, along with several other women with significant careers in the Air Force. There will be a speaker each hour from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm on the first floor of the museum.

The museum’s anniversary celebration continues throughout the year, with the introduction of a new quarterly talk dubbed Warehouse 1402: Behind the Scenes Tour which will feature special presentations at the museum’s support and restoration center. Other special activities will include two Trinity Site Motorcoach Tours, the Yuri’s Night celebration, two Induction ceremonies, and the grand re-opening of the planetarium and theater.

“It’s my great pleasure to be here at the museum during its 40th year, especially with all the new changes that will be taking place here over the next few months,” said Museum Executive Director Chris Orwoll. “In March we’re planning on officially unveiling our new GyroXtreme interactive to the public, and towards the end of May we’ll begin installation of the new 4K laser planetarium projection system – we’ll be the very first in the world to get one.” Other changes being planned include new exhibits in the museum and graphics upgrades in the theater.

Visitors are encouraged to check the museum’s website or Facebook page regularly for information on 40th Anniversary events.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs.  For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website at Like us