BoW Title: Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity
Institution: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Designer: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (in-house team, web designer Hyesun Suk)
Category: Digital Exhibition

What is it like to work in space? Walk on the Moon? How is it possible for humans to venture into space? We need a “personal spacecraft,” the spacesuit. Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity (aka EVA) celebrates the first human spacewalks and the continuing story of EVA. Many people are inspired by images of astronauts in space, yet few have actually experienced it. This exhibition strives to bring that experience back to Earth. Stories and visuals of actual EVAs give visitors a sense of what it’s like to perform a spacewalk. Visitors learn about the development of the “personal spacecraft,” examine the spacesuit components, objects and tools that have enabled humans to perform increasingly complex work in space, and explore how spacewalks continue to inspire us through artwork and our own imagination.

Adapted for an online audience, the exhibition content is retold through the spacewalking experience (Floating, Walking, Working, Imagining). Using parallax techniques to creating a flowing, highly visual experience, the fully responsive website takes visitors through EVA stories illustrated with personal quotes, images, videos, and objects. The Museum’s conservation work is highlighted throughout, detailing how they preserve and display delicate spacesuit objects and the stories revealed through their close examination.

A space glove helix, the centerpiece of the physical exhibition, becomes interactive on the website. Visitors can rotate the helix and examine each glove and its unique features in more detail, revealing how space glove designs have advanced to support increasingly complex work done by astronauts on EVA. Behind the scenes videos detail how the exhibition was conceived and how objects are conserved, selected, and displayed.

“Imagining” invites visitors to submit their own artwork to the “Imagining Spacewalks” Tumblr. A new image or artwork is posted regularly to inspire new artistic creations. Inside the gallery, labels encourage visitors to take and share a selfie at a large Apollo 17 lunar surface mural, engage in conversation online using the #Spacewalk50 hashtag, explore the glove helix display using their mobile device, and visit the exhibition website for more images, videos, and to contribute their own artwork.

The online experience was conceived, designed, and developed by an in-house collaborative team. Several contractors helped develop key elements, including the rotating interactive glove display (Unified Field Inc), the Tumblr art activity (Willa Köerner), and behind the scenes videos (VideoArt Productions).

Screen Images



Imagining Spacewalks: Tumblr inviting visitors to create and share their own artwork inspired by actual images and previous artwork of astronauts on EVA.