January Meeting Summary- Lisa Young #Rebootthesuit!

Posted on May 9, 2016

Lisa Young, Objects Conservator, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum: #Rebootthesuit! – A Perspective on the first Smithsonian Kickstarter campaign to conserve Neil Armstrong’s SpacesuitS. Dillon Ripley Center

On Thursday January 7, 2016, Lisa Young, Objects Conservator at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum (NASM), presented a talk entitled #Rebootthesuit!  — A Perspective on the first Smithsonian Kickstarter campaign to conserve Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit during Ring #1 – Conservators in Social Media of the WCG Three Ring Circus.

The initial goal of the Kickstarter campaign was to raise $500,000 to help cover costs associated with the conservation, digitalization and display of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. Armstrong’s suit will be on display to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019 and in the upcoming exhibition Destination Moon at NASM slated to open in 2020. In this presentation, Young described how they met their initial goal of $500,000 – in just 5 short days — and how they were able to raise an additional $220,000 through a Kickstarter “stretch goal.” The money raised in the stretch goal will be used to conserve the Mercury suit worn by astronaut Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space. In total, $719,779 was raised by 9,477 people.

Kickstarter was selected as the fundraising platform because it allows the public to become more engaged in fundraising efforts. The Smithsonian is now planning more Kickstarter campaigns to continue this type of public engagement. A Kickstarter campaign can last for 30 days, and the NASM campaign launched on July 20, 2015. Rewards are a feature of Kickstarter campaigns that allow a project’s creator to share parts of their project with their backer community. Depending on an individual’s pledge level, a variety of rewards were offered. These rewards ranged from something as simple as a moon boot decal to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Emil Buehler Conservation Lab at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. The campaign’s Kickstarter page can be found at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/smithsonian/reboot-the-suit-bring-back-neil-armstrongs-spacesu/description. Although the campaign has closed, the page features a dynamic short video on the project. In short, NASM’s #Rebootthesuit! Kickstarter campaign brought conservation into a more mainstream audience and the project was “well-suited” for such mass appeal.

Submitted by
Shannon A. Brogdon-Grantham