Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum know that all “stars” are not in the sky. They might have seen the galactic dust gathered from a comet billions of miles away by the Stardust capsule. Or they might have bumped into Hollywood stars touring the museum. Then there are the stars in the planetarium shows. Recently the entire cast of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” walked the red carpet for the worldwide premiere of a film starring some of the museum’s most famous artifacts.
Next week another huge star will arrive to stay—the 8-foot-high lighted star from Coney Island’s now closed space-age theme park, Astroland, will join the museum’s popular culture collection where it will be housed along other science fiction icons such as the Star Trek starship Enterprise. The Star will go on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center after construction of Phase Two of the center is completed in 2011.
The Star—donated by Carol Hill Albert and Jerome Albert, owners of the former Astroland Park and current operators of Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coaster—served as a symbolic representation of Astroland’s space-age theme. The two spinning stars at the entrance on Surf Avenue were installed in 1963, at the height of the space race, and welcomed visitors for nearly half a century to the world-renowned Astroland amusement park.
“The National Air and Space Museum is delighted to receive this important popular culture artifact into the national collection,” said Margaret A. Weitekamp, curator in the Division of Space History. “Astroland embodied the widespread excitement about human spaceflight in the early 1960s. Having a Star from the Astroland gateway, where thousands of people passed to enjoy this entertaining vision of the space age, is a wonderful example of that space craze.”
The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
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