Paris (AFP) July 8, 2009
A rare photographic collection showing in Paris this week traces the entire 13-year US space odyssey that put Neil Armstrong on the moon and features original snapshots of the lunar landing.
At the Palais de Tokyo arthouse until September 20, the exhibition features original prints of snapshots taken for NASA first by robots, then by astronauts, that were collected over a decade by two young Frenchmen aged 24 and 27, Felix Winckler and Victor Martin-Malburet.
"This collection is unique in the world," said Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr, a leading French auctioneer who heads the contemporary art museum.
The 200-odd original photographs displayed at "A Man On The Moon", timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's lunar landing on July 20, 1979, include shots taken by the first 1958 probes to the last photos taken by astronauts on the moon during Apollo 17, in 1972.
From the 1958-1963 Mercury programme when Alan Shepard discovered the sky was black and John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, through the Gemini and Apollo missions, the two young Frenchman amassed the collection from their teens until today.
Winckler was a Star Trek fan and Martin-Malburet dreamt of being an astronaut. But both grew up with parents who collected art and hauled them to art galleries and auctions from early childhood. And both stumbled on astronaut snapshots at sales and began collecting.
The idea of "A Man On The Moon" surfaced later when the pair met and realised they shared a passion.
"Only 27 men have seen the entire Earth from space," said Winckler. "When I look at the pictures it sends me back to those times."
"It's hard to remember the extraordinary human and technological prowess of the space programmes," added Martin-Malburet.
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