A message from Dante Centuori, Executive Director
As you probably know, one month ago the Museum closed to the public as a proactive response to the COVID-19 threat. This stands in stark contrast to the atmosphere just nine months ago as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Yet despite the closure, the importance of our mission and our work supporting it, is ongoing.
Few people in human history will be remembered forever – Mr. Neil Armstrong will likely be among them. People around the world remember where they were and what they were doing as he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. For this moment, the world was united in celebrating the accomplishment as though it were their own.
Fifty years later, people around the world are united again, as we are now asked to combat the Coronavirus Pandemic by practicing “Social Distancing”. As a result, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum has closed. Income from admissions, tours, museum store purchases, and outreach programing have ceased, while our expenses continue.
The abrupt, mandated closing created a major loss of vital visitation revenue that we need to fund our programs and services throughout the year. Despite budget cuts and other cost-saving measures, we’re still falling short. Last year over 70,000 people experienced the museum and our innovative outreach and educational programs. We love doing what we do for you and all of Ohio, which is why we are reaching out in our time of need.
With this in mind, we invite you to participate in the museum’s Inspire and Educate Your Community Fund.
We, once again, need your help. You may make a donation by contributing online here.
Thank you for your support of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum and our commitment to celebrate Ohio’s rich history and contributions to the continued exploration of aeronautics and space. We look forward to seeing you at the Museum soon.
As we approach the four-week mark of being closed to the public, nothing has changed in terms of our operations. The Museum, like all of Ohio, is under a stay-at-home order which is in effect until at least May 1st. Under these guidelines, our staff has been working from home with only limited personnel on-site to ensure the safety of our facility and collections. But despite these challenges, our team has been able to create special content to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission which launched on April 11, 1970. Starting tomorrow, our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts will have daily content related to Apollo 13, with special highlights to our collection.
This was the second Apollo mission to be commanded by a native Ohioan: Jim Lovell, born in Cleveland in 1928, just 2 years before Neil Armstrong arrived here in Wapakoneta in 1930. (And in fact, Ohio is the only state that can boast having two lunar missions commanded by a native son!) And of course, there’s Toledo’s Gene Kranz, who as Flight Director spearheaded the efforts on the ground. We hope you will enjoy following our posts, fun facts and videos as we follow the mission day-to-day. Also, our Education team has been working on features that you’ll see on our social media platforms right after the Apollo 13 mission coverage ends. So please follow if you aren’t already!
Fifty years ago, NASA was only nine months removed from the epic success of Apollo 11 when they were faced with the crisis of Apollo 13. Similarly, it was also just nine months ago when we all came together to execute the wildly successful Apollo 11 “First on the Moon” 50th Anniversary celebration here in Wapakoneta. I know these are very different crises, but I believe Wapakoneta and the Armstrong Air & Space Museum will get through this the same way—through teamwork, creativity, ingenuity and a dedication to the mission. Something to think about as we relive the events of Apollo 13 over the next seven days, events later referred to as NASA’s “finest hour.” And the fact that the leaders both on the ground and in space were from the Buckeye State probably shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation, and The Armstrong Air & Space Museum supports all the efforts being done at the local, state and federal level to help combat the spread of this virus. With the indefinite nature of this interruption in business, it is challenging to make projections, so we are trying to position ourselves in the best way possible to get through this unpredictable time.
When the Ohio History Connection made the difficult decision to temporarily close the museum site system on Saturday, March 14, and we shut our doors, our first priority was (and remains) the welfare of our staff. The staff, including myself, are employed by The Armstrong Air & Space Museum Association, which oversee the daily operations of the museum. As we evaluated the practical reality of an indefinite closure during the COVID-19 pandemic, we faced an impossible decision. We rely heavily on revenue generated by museum attendance, and that came to a sudden halt with no way to predict when it might return. Analyzing our situation, we decided that the best way to help our team is to ensure the Museum can operate viably when we reopen after this crisis.
Yesterday, we made the tough decision to lay off the part-time Guest Services and Facilities staff. These people are the first and last faces our visitors see when they come to the Museum, the people who ensure their visit is pleasant, the people who say hello, thank you and come again. With the new provisions put into place by the state, they should be able to receive unemployment benefits without interruption in pay. And we are looking forward to when we can reopen and once again welcome guests to our Museum.
To our supporters, members and donors, thank you. As we struggle due to the loss of visitor revenue, your support is even more important. To help shoulder the burden, we have established a way to donate to the Museum. If are you able to help, it would bring joy to some difficult days at your Armstrong Air & Space Museum. Thank you.
--03/14/2020, 9:30 AM--
Out of care for the health of our visitors, volunteers, staff and community at large, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum will be temporarily closed to the public as part of an international effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The closure went into effect beginning today Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Because of the rapidly changing nature of this pandemic, a re-opening date will not be announced at this time. As a part of the Ohio History Connection site system, we will re-open according to their direction. Updates on the museum's hours will be posted on our armstrongmuseum.org website and social media channels.
Individuals who have registered for upcoming events will be contacted regarding the rescheduling or cancellation of these programs.
We are experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis and the health and safety of our guests and staff is our top priority. Being proactive in stemming the spread of COVID-19 is critical, and early social distancing measures have been borne out by scientific evidence to be a crucial step in stopping the spread of the virus.
We thank you for your support and understanding and will keep you informed of any additional changes in operation as this rapidly evolving public health situation continues.