Friday, July 10, 2009

Joliet Area Historical Museum Launches Space Exhibit

“NASA Officials agree that without Houbolt’s lonely campaign in the early 1960’s, the U.S. would have been hard pressed to meet John Kennedy’s goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970.”

— Time Magazine
February 28, 1969


The 40th anniversary of the man landing on the moon will

be celebrated with a special exhibit at the Joliet Area Historical Museum.


 On July 18, 19, and 20 the Joliet Area Historical Museum will launch a permanent, $600,000 space-themed exhibit, “The Soaring Achievements of John C. Houbolt.”


This exhibit honors NASA scientist Dr. John C. Houbolt, the key proponent of the lunar orbit rendezvous concept, which made the Eagle’s lunar landing possible. Houbolt is a native of Joliet.


The Soaring Achievements of John C. Houbolt is a two-story exhibit featuring interactive panels, audio-visuals, flat-screen narratives, and period dioramas that tell the exciting story of the race to the moon, the Apollo 11 Mission, the 1969 moon landing, and Houbolt’s vision and contributions.


Houbolt is a graduate of Joliet Junior College. The road leading to the campus is named in his honor.


Private donations, including $300,000 from Neal and Nancy Houbolt, have helped fund the exhibit.  Part of the donation given by the Neal Houbolt family also supported the purchase of a Lunar Lander Simulator, where visitors are challenged to begin their own daring journey of space exploration.


 Once inside, visitors see the same controls used by the first lunar explorers during their missions. Standing at their stations, astronaut trainees view the dusty lunar surface through slanted triangular windows. Using a throttle and a joystick, skill and wit are put to the test as the trainees guide their fragile craft to the approaching lunar surface. Instrument displays and audio feedback from their computer “co-pilot” assist them in their descent.

Free admission July 18, 19 & 20

Free admission is offered during the exhibit’s grand opening weekend. The public grand opening begins on Saturday, July 18. On Sunday, July 19, guests can also enjoy “Cosmic JAHM,” from 2 to 5 p.m. The Cosmic JAHM event features ten zones of engaging space-themed activities for all ages, a disc jockey on JAHM’s outdoor rooftop terrace, and free popsicles.


On Monday, July 20, JAHM will be open from 10  a.m. until 1 p.m.  


The Museum, at 204 N. Ottawa Street, Joliet,  is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Tuesdays through Saturday; and from  noon to 5 p.m., on Sunday’s.

Free parking is available at Ottawa and Webster Streets, one block north of the museum.


The museum’s  $9.2 million facility  is in the former Ottawa Street Methodist Church building, completed in 1910.  Admission to the Museum is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors/students, $3 for children ages 4-17, and free for museum members and children 3 years and younger.


More on the web:

Photos courtesy of The Joliet Area Historical Museum.