For the first time ever, the Smithsonian Institution has turned to Kickstarter to fund one of their projects.
Posted on the crowdfunding site, Smithsonian aimed to reach $500,000 for an upcoming exhibit that will highlight the original Neil Armstrong spacesuit that he wore when he and the Apollo 11 crew made it to the moon back in 1969.
Although Smithsonian receives federal funds, the money is mainly used for research and maintenance of collections. They decided to rely on Kickstarter this time so they can go on with the exhibit. In the past, Smithsonian has relied on philanthropy contributions for such projects.
Yoonhyung Lee, Smithsonian’s director of digital philanthropy, went on to explain why the institution picked Kickstarter in the first place:
“Kickstarter has wonderful brand recognition and an amazing community that’s very vested in what’s happening on Kickstarter.”
Since it was established in 2009, Kickstarter has become the world’s largest funding platform for various projects. Currently the website has 9.1 million backers.
Part of the money raised for the campaign will be used for preserving the actual spacesuit by giving it a climate-controlled display case. The suit will also be digitized in 3D format.
According to Lee:
“We knew we had to start with something that out of the gate showed how the Smithsonian has this wonderful iconic object that is in need of public care.”
Participants who contributed to the suit reboot campaign will either receive a thank-you email ($1), a printable 3D scan of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit glove ($35), a conservation lad and restoration hanger tour ($1,000), and an ultimate “behind-the-scenes experience ($10,000).”
Since Smithsonian has already surpassed its $500,000 goal, they are now hoping to stretch it by $700,000 so they can also preserve Alan Shepard’s space suit, the first American in space.
The preserved Neil Armstrong spacesuit will be showcased in the National Air and Space Museum exhibit scheduled for 2019 – the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing.
In the meanwhile, Smithsonian plans to launch three or four other projects on Kickstarter within the next 12 months.