The Smithsonian has created their first-ever Kickstarter project, and they're starting big: They want your help preserving Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit.
The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing is July 20, 2019, and the Smithsonian is working to "Reboot the Suit" in time to celebrate. As they explain on their page, the suit is currently in a climate-controlled environment that the public isn't allowed to enter. "You may be surprised to learn that spacesuits are among the most fragile artifacts in the Museum’s collection," the Kickstarter hub states. "The Apollo suits were made to take astronauts to the Moon and back safely—not to last hundreds of years in a museum."
The national museum hopes to begin exhibiting the suit in a climate-controlled display case similar to where it currently sits, but cannot use federal funds towards the endeavor. "Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian's operating budget and support core functions, such as building operations and maintenance, research, and safeguarding the collections," the page explains. "Projects like Reboot the Suit aren’t covered by our federal appropriations, which means we can only undertake them if we can fund them some other way."
Hence, the Kickstarter page. At press time, the campaign had raised a little more than $37,000 towards its $500,000 goal. Why such a steep price tag? Museum experts must consult those who originally made the suit and cared for it along the way, and explore various preservation methods in order to ensure the suit lasts for generations to come. They're even creating a 3D model to allow civilians to explore the world's most famous spacesuit themselves. The museum notes that they "will literally write the book on the proper techniques for spacesuit conservation," so it's important that they get it right.
Thinking about contributing? All donations are completely tax-deductible (and, if you pledge $20 or more, come with a very cool decal of a print from the spacesuit's boot). Higher-level donors will receive invitations to special Smithsonian events, including the eventual unveiling of the suit in its new home.
To join the project or learn more, check out its website here.