‘Destination Moon’ draws record crowds to Heinz History Center
The landing of the first human on the moon is no less fascinating today than it was when it happened in 1969 — witness the popularity of the just-ended “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” exhibition in the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
The exhibition closed Feb. 18 after setting attendance records at the history center.
“We had more than 6,000 visitors for the final weekend, and that’s our largest weekend ever,” says Brady Smith, the center’s director of marketing and communications. “That’s just one of the superlatives that came out of having this exhibit at the history center.”
Smith provided the following facts and figures for The Smithsonian’s “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” Pittsburgh run:
• The exhibition drew roughly 100,000 visitors from Sept. 29 through Feb. 18.
• It’s the second-most attended exhibition in the history of the Heinz History Center (“Vatican Splendors” drew approximately 120,000 in 2010).
• The exhibit drew roughly more than 32,000 visitors during its final six weeks, which is a History Center record.
• It also drew two times the average attendance during the same period (late September through mid-February) over the past five years.
• “Destination Moon” drew more visitors over the holidays (Thanksgiving through Jan. 1) than any other History Center exhibit has since “Vatican Splendors.”
“The last couple of weeks were especially crazy here, with people waiting until the end to see it,” says Kimberly Roberts, communications coordinator for the history center.
“We were very lucky to host it in Pittsburgh,” Smith says. “This was one of, if not the most popular exhibit we’ve ever had.”
“We were really happy to see the great turnout (for “Destination Moon”),” Smith says. “We were really happy to have an artifact of this magnitude.”
The Pittsburgh facility is one of only four nationwide to host the exhibit.
Sponsored by UPMC during its Pittsburgh run, the exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).
Pittsburgh was the only exhibition site east of the Mississippi River. The Space Center Houston and St. Louis Science Center played host to “Destination Moon” during 2018.
The exhibition now moves to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where it will open April 13, Smith says. When it closes there Sept. 2, the Apollo 11 capsule and other featured artifacts will return to the Smithsonian.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .