A7-L Extra vehicular Suit, Shepard, Apollo 14. Courtesy National Air and Space Museum


Suited for Space

Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

MH-5: First MOL Training Configuration; Hamilton Standard, 1967.The history of this country is one of perilous voyages and unchartered territory, but few journeys have captured the imagination and hearts of the public as the race into space. It was seemingly unattainable, but American ingenuity, innovation, and determination made the impossible possible. And it is that ingenuity and innovation that is explored and celebrated in the SITES exhibit Suited for Space.

Through rare and original photography, including unique, new x-ray images of the interiors of the spacesuits, the exhibit reveals how the modern technological marvel that is the spacesuit enables astronauts to live and work in space. This exhibit reveals the remarkable creativity and determination of the extraordinary few who ventured into space, but it highlights and showcases the brilliant ingenuity of the hundreds more who worked tirelessly—and often anonymously—to get them there. 

In May 1961, when President Kennedy made the promise that America would put a man on the moon within a decade, the ability to fulfill that promise existed only in theory. The spacesuit was a critical piece of engineering that allowed Neil Armstrong to step onto another world and survive in the hostile environment of outer space. The Apollo spacesuit he wore evolved from the groundbreaking advances of the Gemini and Mercury mission suits, facilitating movement and dexterity in small spaces, remaining pressurized in zero gravity, and providing essential oxygen, heating, and cooling in as efficient a manner as possible.

The national exhibition tour is generously supported by DuPont.


Exhibition specifications

Contents Text and graphic panels, banners with life-size photographs and x-rays of suits, framed photographs, objects, replica Apollo spacesuit, photo-op spacesuit

Educational and promotional resources

Participation Fee $15,000
Size Approximately 2,000 square feet
Crates 11 + Pallet Jack
Weight 5,415 lbs
Category Science
Security Moderate

$5,783, Prorated

SITES Contacts

Saul Drake, 202.633.3115 (Content | Design)
Minnie Russell, 202.633.3160 (Scheduling)

Tour Through



The popularity and interest in spacesuits reflects the extraordinary cultural status of spaceflight. Allan Needell, National Air and Space Museum

Tour itinerary

Opening Closing Host Institution Status
04/06/2011- 09/25/2011 Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL Booked
10/15/2011- 01/08/2012 Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond, VA Booked
01/28/2012- 04/22/2012 Columbia Space Center, Downey, CA Booked
05/12/2012- 08/05/2012 Strategic Air and Space Museum,
Ashland, NE
08/25/2012- 11/18/2012 Center for Earth and Space Science,
Tyler, TX
12/08/2012- 03/03/2013 American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA Booked
03/23/2013- 06/16/2013 Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ Booked
07/26/2013- 12/01/2013 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC Booked
02/01/2014- 04/27/2014 Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa, FL Booked
05/17/2014- 11/23/2014 Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA Booked
12/13/2014- 03/08/2015 The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA Booked
03/28/2015- 06/21/2015 Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, CA Booked
07/11/2015- 11/01/2015 Stauth Memorial Museum, Montezuma, KS Booked

Related publications

Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection by Amanda Young. Brooklyn: powerHouse Books, 2009. Hard cover.


Spacesuits book cover


Press release

Media only: Jennifer Schommer, 202.633.3121
Media web site: http://newsdesk.si.edu

Spacesuits That Helped Launch the American Space Program Explored
in New Smithsonian Exhibition

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy stated the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. To achieve this ambitious goal, astronauts would need not only a spacecraft to launch them safely into space, but a spacesuit that would protect them as well. Without the proper clothing to keep them alive while traveling, living and working beyond the bonds of Earth, space exploration was not possible.

Suited for Space, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, explores the evolution of spacesuit development from the first quarter of the 20th century until the dawn of the shuttle era.

Suited for Space will premiere at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago April 6. It will remain on view through Sept. 25 and will continue on an 11-city national tour through 2015. The national exhibition tour of Suited for Space is supported by DuPont.

The exhibition features large-scale photographs of suits worn by astronauts from Project Mercury through the Skylab program as well as suits used in testing and training. The photographs featured in Suited for Space were taken by Smithsonian photographer Mark Avino. In addition, Avino, in collaboration with Ronald Cunningham produced new X-ray images that provide a unique view of the interiors of the spacesuits. While the fragility of these spacesuits prevents them from traveling, the exhibition will feature a replica Apollo spacesuit on loan from NASA and 10 objects from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, including a glove, a boot and helmets. Avino’s photographs provide a visual timeline of the spacesuits’ development over the years.

Suited for Space includes suits that made history—like the one Buzz Aldrin wore on the Moon—and those that never left the ground such as the Mark V spacesuit designed for Project Mercury. The design of the Mark V suit included an over-sized shoulder joint that provided an expanded level of mobility. However, with three astronauts sitting side-by-side in a capsule the size of the front seat of a small car, the suit was not feasible for the Apollo mission. A visitor to the exhibition can see an exciting visual timeline of the spacesuits’ evolution over the years. In addition, the exhibition has its own Facebook page for space trivia, curatorial insight, and general fun. Visit www.facebook.com/suitedforspace.

Suited for Space is accompanied by a richly illustrated book, titled Spacesuits: The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Collection available through powerHouse Books. DuPont’s sponsorship reflects the company’s commitment to protecting people though innovative protective apparel. DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere.

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.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.

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» Exhibition Specifications

» Tour Itinerary

» Related Publications

» Exhibition Prospectus

» Press Release

» For Kids

Click to enlarge. Boot from Apollo mission. Click to enlarge. Mark V--Modified. B.F. Goodrich, 1968.
Click to enlarge. EX1-A--Apollo Applications Project. AiResearch Corporation, 1968. Click to enlarge. RX-1--Radiograph of arm unit. Litton Industries, 1962.
Click to enlarge. EX1-A--Radiograph Image. AiResearch Corporation, 1968. Click to enlarge. A7-L Extra-vehicular suit, Shepard, Apollo 14.

If you like this exhibition, you may also like:

The Evolving Universe

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight (Archives)

Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes (Archives)

NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration (Archives)

More Exhibitions from SITES


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