What Is The First (And Only) Art Installation On The Moon Called?
Answer: Fallen Astronaut
In 1971, the crew of Apollo 15 placed a small sculpture on the lunar surface along with a metal plaque propped up beside it. This tiny sculpture–a little over 3″ long–became the first, and to date only, art installation on the moon.
Prior to the Apollo 15 mission, astronaut David Scott had met Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck at a dinner party. Scott commissioned Van Hoeydonck to create a small statuette to commemorate the astronauts and cosmonauts that had lost their lives in furthering humanity’s space exploration efforts. The result of the commission was Fallen Astronaut, a small aluminum figure of simple design that, per Scott’s instructions, is not identifiable as male, female, or any particular ethnic group but simply as human.
Scott and his fellow astronauts smuggled the statue aboard the Apollo 15 launch and covertly placed and photographed the memorial on the surface of the moon. Only upon returning to earth did they tell NASA command of their efforts. One year later Van Hoeydonck made a copy, at the behest of Scott and the Smithsonian Institute, to be placed on permanent display in the National Mall Building’s Space Race Wing.