The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, in collaboration with U.S. Department of the Interior and the award-winning creative company known as 59 Productions, staged an impressive projection mapping show on the Washington Monument last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. This historic mission saw the U.S. successfully land Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon for nearly 22 hours before returning them safely to an orbiting Apollo spacecraft. After projecting the rocket onto the monument all week, the museum launched their 17-minute show from National Mall entitled “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon.”
The Egyptian obelisk shape of the Washington Monument not only provides a projection mapping canvas that transcends the traditional rectangular format and aspect ratio of most screens, but it also echoes the form of the Saturn V rocket itself, thereby providing layers of meaning and acknowledging the achievements that were stacked on top of each other towards the skies by each passing generation. As footage of the 363-foot-rocket launch plays, one half expects the Washington Monument itself to actually take off into the stratosphere.
Check out the video of the proceedings below, and skip to the 8:33 mark to see the beginning of the actual projections, which present a sort of timeline of images that track humanity’s journey from primitive hunter/gatherers to space travelers. That is … unless you’re really into the atmosphere that’s created on site by a knockoff John Carpenter score mixed with chatter from mission control. In that case, watch the whole thing.