CSU, Chico News

Space Exploration Begins at CSU, Chico Museum

Date: 01-08-2013

Adrienne Scott/Heather McCafferty
Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology
Joe Wills
Public Affairs

The Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology at California State University, Chico is proud to announce the opening of its latest exhibition, Infinity and Beyond: Humanity’s Quest to Explore Space, Wednesday, Jan. 30. The exhibition presents the opportunity for the public to venture into space and to visualize the breathtaking beauty of our solar system and beyond.

Drawing from scientific discovery and anthropological understandings, this exhibit traces the earliest archaeological evidence of human celestial observations through our modern space program, culminating in the recent and successful landing of the Mars rover, Curiosity. Visitors may see a Russian Sokol Space suit, examine a moon rock, watch brand-new video footage of deep space, walk through the life-size replica of the International Space Station, and much more.

Most inhabitants of Earth will never have the chance to leave the home planet. This exhibit pays tribute to the endeavors of the intrepid few who have.

Valene Smith, after whom the museum is named, has always been an adventure-minded world traveler in addition to being an applied anthropologist and a geographer by training. She earned her pilot’s license, which greatly expanded her vision of what could be seen and known about our world.

This new skill renewed her appreciation for what can be done above the Earth to solve human problems and advance technology. Later, in 2000, Dr. Smith wrote a pioneering article on space tourism. With her creative inspiration, the CSU, Chico museum studies program students, under the guidance and instruction of museum co-director Stacy Schaefer, researched, designed and installed this current show.

Exhibitions always involve partnerships and collaborations to create the dynamic experiences visitors expect. This year, the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology partnered with Oroville’s Las Plumas High School Regional Occupational Program (ROP) welding class.

Instructor Jon Andrew oversaw the design and construction of the replica space station. Students in the ROP program prepare for future work or education through job site trainings such as this. For many of these young people, this was their first encounter with the CSU, Chico campus, helping them realize they have skills important beyond their Oroville classroom.

Additionally, some of the objects on display are on loan from prestigious institutions such as the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, and the W Foundation in Novato. Locally, nautical expert and collector Bob Benner loaned a miniature star globe and astrolabe, both tools used in early celestial navigation.

Infinity and Beyond: Humanity’s Quest to Explore Space will remind visitors to deeply appreciate their place in the cosmos. The public is invited to view the exhibit and celebrate the opening at the reception on Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The museum is located in the Meriam Library complex room 180 on the CSU, Chico campus.

The Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology is a not-for-profit organization promoting respect and appreciation for human cultural diversity. The museum reaches students on campus and the North State community through educational programs and events. Call today to book a K–12 tour. Mark the calendar for a free astronaut guest lecture on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. Steven K. Robinson, a former NASA astronaut and current astrophysicist at UC Davis, will speak about his experience in space and the future research needed to continue human exploration of space.