Museum exhibit to commemorate Columbia anniversary
Houston County Courier - January 2008
Two large-scale models of the space shuttle will be part of a temporary exhibit of NASA memorabilia opening soon in downtown Nacogdoches to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Columbia tragedy.
The exhibit is being sponsored by Stephen F. Austin State University’s Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center and the Columbia Memorial Museum. It will be open to the public from Jan. 26 to Feb. 10 in the vacant Wyatt Building next door to Nacogdoches City Hall on the downtown square.
In conjunction with the exhibit, organizers also are holding a reunion for those who participated in the long recovery effort and kicking off a new campaign to record the recollections of recovery workers for posterity.
On Feb. 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, and all seven astronauts on board were lost. The expansive debris field covered much of East Texas, including Nacogdoches and surrounding counties.
“There were literally thousands of people who came here to search for debris and help with the recovery effort, and, except for their individual recollections, we have no way to record their experiences for history,” said Dr. Morris Jackson, director of the Columbia Memorial Museum. “We are hoping to sit down with as many of them as possible over the coming weeks and begin to preserve their living histories for future generations.”
Along with the models of the space shuttle, the exhibit will include large panels with printed information and photographs detailing the history of space exploration in the United States. Scrapped space shuttle components also will be available for viewing; however, no debris from the Columbia disaster will be included in the display.
“This is the first time an exhibit of this magnitude and quality has been brought to East Texas, and it really chronicles the whole history of the shuttle program,” said Dr. James Kroll, director of the Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center. “The displays are just incredible, so we are hoping a lot of people will take advantage of the opportunity to come and see the exhibit.”
The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.
Volunteers are needed to serve as docents for the exhibit. If you would like to help, call the Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center at (936) 468-6100. Donations for the Columbia Memorial Museum may be mailed to P.O. Box 635007, Nacogdoches, TX, 75963-5007.