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Monday, August 10, 2009

Photo Exhibit Never Before Seen in US now at Cosmosphere

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is hosting, "Reflections: Images of Apollo," a unique photo exhibit from Space Collector, Leslie Cantwell. This is the first time these inscribed photographs have been seen in the United States.

Gathered personally by Mr. Cantwell, this exhibit features 100, large-scale, official NASA photographs inscribed by the astronauts and others involved with the missions. This is the largest collection of its kind, and the Cosmosphere is pleased to be chosen as the first place Cantwell has allowed to exhibit the photos in the US.

The collection includes not only autographs, but also lengthy inscriptions by many of the astronauts. Some capture funny exchanges that occurred at the time, others feature text from the great writers and poets throughout history, and some include descriptions of chilling moments of the space program.

It's rare to have even a signature from astronauts John Young, Buzz Aldrin or Michael Collins, but in this collection they have also written lengthy personal inscriptions on the photos. This collection is a tribute to the Apollo program and its extraordinary achievements.

In addition to those listed above, also included are photos signed by Alan Bean, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Harrison Schmitt, Gene Kranz, and Gene Cernan, as well as many others. Walter Cunningham, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 7, is quoted as saying, "These are rare and unique pictures from a unique time in the history of the world."

Cantwell's interest in the US Space program started in 1981 when he met moonwalker Jim Irwin in Germany. Irwin inscribed a photo of a man standing on the moon with the words, "with love from the moon." Cantwell put it aside, but when he rediscovered the photo 10 years later, it ignited an interest in this history and he began pursuing other photos.

The decision to combine the 16" X 20" photos with handwritten text from those involved takes the photo beyond visual art. Cantwell is preserving an important part of our history like no one else has and is promoting the achievements of the American space program to a new generation.

The original photographs are on display at the Cosmosphere in the rotunda.

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