Picture gallery

Apollo’s Muse: The moon in the age of photography

First Woman on the Moon, 1999 © Aleksandra Mir, courtesy of the artist

Half a billion viewers around the world tuned in to watch the first moon landing.. 50 years later, a new exhibition traces photographic representations of the moon from the dawn of the medium to the present day

On 20 July 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. It was the first spaceship to safely land in space, and as images were beamed back to earth, half a billion viewers tuned in to watch.  

Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography traces visual representations of the moon from the medium’s inception to the present day. The exhibition, on show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, begins with an exploration of the progress of astronomical photography. Particular attention is paid to the 130-year period between the invention of photography and the moon landing, during which artists capitalised on technological improvements to create accurate visual records of space. The display includes two daguerreotype prints made in the mid-1800s, as well as astronomical records from the Paris Observatory.

Daguerreotype of View of the Moon, 1852 © John Adams Whipple, courtesy of John G. Wolbach Library, Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Blue Marble, 1972, taken from NASA Apollo 17 © Harrison Schmitt, Gift of Jules Bergman, 1984, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Works created in the wake of the moon landing are also on show, by artists such as Gary Winnogrand, Robert Rauschenberg, and Nam June Paik. Images and films that explore depictions of life on the moon, including George Méliès’s original drawings for his 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, also feature.

Apollo 11 Moon Shot, Cape Kennedy, Florida, 1969, by Garry Winogrand © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Everyone’s Moon 2015-11-04 14:22:59 (video still), 2015 © Penelope Umbrico, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York

“The moon has long been a nearly universal source of fascination and inspiration,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “This exhibition shows us how photography introduced new dimensions to its documentation and interpretation, and explores the tremendous impact that the 1969 moon landing had on artists of the time – the lasting effects of which still resonate today.”

Half a billion viewers around the world tuned in to watch the first moon landing.. 50 years later, a new exhibition traces photographic representations of the moon from the dawn of the medium to the present day
Transparency of the Moon from Negatives Made at the Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, California, ca. 1896 © Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Earthrise, 1968, taken from NASA Apollo 8 © William Anders, Gift of Jules Bergman, 1984, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography is on show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until 22 September 2019