As part of the 40th anniversary celebration of humankind’s first steps on the Moon, the Museum of Flight brings to Seattle the exhibit Apollo 11: An Artist’s Perspective - Original Sketches from NASA Artist Paul Calle.

In 1962, Paul Calle was chosen as one of the first eight artists of the newly established NASA Art Program. The purpose of the program was to record for history space exploration through the eyes of artists. Beginning with Gordon Cooper’s Project Mercury flight in May 1963, Calle has documented the action surrounding Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle flights from the launch facilities of Cape Kennedy to the aircraft carriers in the South Atlantic.

Calle was the only artist to be with the Apollo 11 crew as they prepared for the launch at Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, the morning of the historic launch. NASA had asked artist Calle to document the activities of the Apollo 11 astronauts in the hours before their launch so that the record of the historic event would be as complete as possible. He agreed, though it meant adhering to strict quarantine procedures required of all having personal contact with the crew. The on-the-spot drawings produced by Calle are a documentary record of the final moments on Earth of three men before they made world history. Calle completed this assignment and the work was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in November 1969, and later displayed in the National Air and Space Museum. For the following years, the Smithsonian Institution circulated these drawings to many galleries and museums around the nation. The exhibit will feature sketches and other works by Calle from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, local collectors, and from the artist’s personal collection.

The exhibit will be on display in the Museum of Flight’s exhibit Space: Exploring the New Frontier July 1 through September 7, 2009.