"Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission" is a celebratory 50th anniversary exhibition of the Apollo 11 mission, organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), that is traveling to top museums across America. Beginning on April 14, the Saint Louis Science Center became the only museum in the Midwest to host this very special exhibition.
Part of Science Center's preparation for hosting "Destination Moon" involved the creation of additional immersive galleries for the entry and exit experiences - tying the story directly to the St. Louis community. To maximize visitor experience, the Science Center team engaged Luci Creative as design partners.
Joining forces as one cohesive team, the collaborative efforts added more than 8,000 square feet of experiences, including an entry that transports visitors into the Space Race era, through a St. Louis street scene, a 1960s home, and an immersive theater experience. The additional exhibit space also includes an exit gallery, also designed to immerse visitors inside of a space-engineering themed environment, providing hands-on interactive installations packed with invaluable Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities.
"This was a great opportunity for the Luci team to pull from our roots in theatrical design and transport visitors back in time through environmental, digital and tactile interactive installations," said AJ Goehle, Executive Director at Luci Creative. "Given the Saint Louis Science Center's ambitious goals, it was an absolute honor to help create a localized, relevant, and unforgettable journey for everyone who will experience this monumental exhibit in St. Louis."
Beginning with extensive research into the SITES exhibit, Luci's team - which also included Executive Director AJ Goehle, Creative Director Kevin Snow, Senior Exhibit Designer Matthew York, Exhibit Designer Michael Gospel, Art Director Jaime Hotz, Senior Graphic Designer Sarah Anderson, and Graphic Production Specialist Brad Resnick - was provided with Entry and Exit gallery conceptual and interpretive plans as well as content outlines developed by Project Manager Kristina Hampton, Chief Officer of Science, Education and Experience Christian Greer, and Exhibition Production Manager Chris Lucas. Through additional exploration, Luci's efforts focused on additional research including content roadmap creation, design specification and floor plan development. This was then built within the Science Center's robust fabrication shop.
"The Entry experience uses scenic design techniques with layered sound, music, light and an immersive atmosphere to transport visitors into a theatrical, 1960s street scene, on their way into a familiar living room setting," Kevin Snow explained. "There, they watch a six-minute film illuminating the St. Louis region's involvement in the Space Race."
In the entry gallery, visitors learn about the Apollo 11 astronauts, personal stories from those who worked in the space program, as well as lunar mapping, done by the U.S. Air Force's Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC), whose services and facilities were in St. Louis, and the tools used to assess where to land, including interactives that teach them how to use these tools. To access the SITES exhibit itself, visitors cross a gantry that sets the stage by rumbling and emitting smoke.
"Visitors then encounter the thrilling exhibit itself, which is all about the Apollo 11 mission," added Matthew York. "From there, the immersive Exit gallery - developed with younger audiences in mind - is where visitors get to experiment with technologies and the various roles that astronauts play while exploring space. These hands-on Exit gallery experiences include interconnected, scale models of a command module, a landing module and mission control desks; rocket launch gravity science and lunar lander installations; a space suit interactive experience; and a timeline display dedicated to the future of space exploration."