The Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) launched “A Journey to the Moon through Texas,” a web exhibit showcasing selected films of NASA’s Apollo program from the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. The project displays thirty-nine film artifacts—encompassing industrial, government, and promotional films as well as home movies and news footage—collectively documenting NASA’s progress towards achieving the historic lunar landing to a degree not previously available to the public.
The exhibit also features extensive scholarship. All thirty-nine films are discoverable through a series of categories: Astronauts, Missions, Contractors, Locations, Crafts and Vehicles, and Technologies and Processes. Every category breaks down into a selection of relevant subjects, with the page for each topic including an informed profile about its history with and significance to the manned space program accompanied by a curated gallery of films. Subjects are connected not only by category but also through hyperlinks within the topic descriptions. There are also pages dedicated to each film,containing a knowledgeable summary of its content and a list of metadata related to the physical artifact, such as its media format, reel length, and film stock. As a result, the site offers an interactive experience with multiple entry points for the user to observe and interpret the film collection.
“Journey to the Moon” is an incredible achievement for TAMI, combining unique materials and complementary research within a striking yet easy-to-use interface to create a finished product that is unlike anything presented by other archives. Such a singular project fulfills two organizational objectives. First, it serves the Texas community, preserving and providing access to an extraordinary period in the state’s history. Second, “Journey to the Moon” also expands TAMI’s audience to include anyone interested in the manned space program, giving users across the globe the rare chance to witness first-hand accounts of NASA operations at a critical point in time.
TAMI sought to capitalize on the project’s unique appeal through an extensive marketing campaign, contacting regional institutions and press agencies as well as government facilities, special-interest groups, and public figures. It also cultivated interest through social media. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with reactions coming from individuals and organizations not only across the state but also around the country and abroad. The exhibit site logged nearly 10,000 visits within the first four weeks of its release. Furthermore, the significance of “Journey to the Moon” will only continue to grow. As a permanent web exhibit rather than a temporary physical installation, it can find new communities to serve and generations to excite year after year.