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As he became the first person to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong announced, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” This exhibition celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of that remarkable achievement as the last step in a long series that stretches back through the centuries to the beginnings of the modern scientific understanding of our place in the universe.

On display are landmarks in the history of science from Houghton Library’s collections—such as first editions of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton—together with rarely exhibited highlights from a private spaceflight collection, including artifacts used during the Apollo 11 mission and on the moon itself by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Together, these objects illuminate the path of research and discovery that made Apollo 11 possible.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Closes August 3.


The exhibition is accompanied by a commemorative catalog which focuses on the loaned items only and is also available for free online here.


Opening celebration on Tuesday, April 30, 5:30 PM

Exhibition Tours 

Join curator John Overholt for a guided tour of the exhibition to learn about the ways early modern science inspired and made possible the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

  • Wednesday May 15, 12:30-1:15 PM
  • Saturday June 8, 2:00-2:45 PM, followed by a screening of Moon Medley: Moon-Related Short Films from Around the World at the Harvard Film Archive, 3:00 PM (estimated running time 70 min), 24 Quincy Street
  • Wednesday June 26, 5:30-6:15 PM
  • Thursday July 11, 12:30-1:15 PM
  • Saturday July 20, 4:30-5:15 PM, followed by a screening of The Right Stuff (1983) at the Harvard Film Archive, 5:30 PM (running time 193 min)
  • Tuesday July 30, 5:30-6:15 PM

Tours are free and open to the public. Reservation not required.

Film Screenings

In collaboration with Houghton Library, the Harvard Film Archive presents films about human exploration of space. The HFA’s Weekend Matinee series will highlight moon-themed films appropriate for space travelers of all ages. 

  • Saturday June 8, 3:00 PM, Moon Medley: a compilation of Moon-related short films from around the world, including A Trip to the Moon (1902), live musical accompaniment (estimated running time 70 min). 
  • Saturday June 29, 3:00 PM, Hidden Figures (2016; 127 min)

$5 Weekend Matinee Admission or Free with Cambridge Public Library Card. Free for all Harvard students with a valid photo ID.

  • Saturday July 20, 5:30 PM, The Right Stuff (1983; 193 min)
  • Saturday August 3, 7:00 PM, Woman in the Moon (Frau im Mond, 1929; 169 min), live musical accompaniment

Regular HFA screenings are free for all Harvard students with a valid photo ID.

In the News

"An Exhibit Features Artifacts from the Apollo 11 Lunar Mission," (S2020 E607, 9:30-14:00), WLIW Arts Beat

"How to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing in Boston," Boston Magazine

"Events and exhibits celebrating Apollo 11 at 50," CBS News

"WGBH's Jared Bowen on Leonardo da Vinci, Apollo 11, And The Newest Play At The Huntington Theater," (12:00-15:41) Boston Public Radio.

"It Must Have Been Moonglow," The Boston Globe 

"Apollo 11 at Fifty," Fine Books and Collections

"Exhibit charts history of Apollo 11 mission," Harvard Gazette

"Apollo 11 at Fifty," Open Studio With Jared Bowen

"Apollo 11, Up Close and Personal," Harvard Magazine

"Libraries and Museums Focus on the Moon this Spring & Summer," Fine Books and Collections