During my time at the Science Museum, I had to arrange for the return of various objects from the Apollo 11 mission to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
Several fine art transport agents were invited to tender for the return of loans. During the examination, we came across the item depicted in the photograph. Believe it or not, this pair of underpants belonged to the American astronaut Neil Armstrong, worn during a moon walk. Whilst inspecting the underwear, we discovered crystallised urine pearls in the tissue paper. At first we were slightly perplexed, but then the coin dropped. Unsurprisingly, whilst Armstrong was exploring the lunar surface, he needed to use the bathroom, and there was only one option! We actually found proof of that in the tissue paper in which the undie was wrapped.
As a child, I watched the moon landing and saw when Armstrong set his left foot on the moon and stated the famous words: “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I never anticipated that years later I would handle and examine his underpants, as well as other important objects of human space travel, it made my day - a day I never will forget.
As usual, all the objects were condition checked and appropriately packed, and the necessary customs documents were prepared for the return of the items to the USA.
Image: Neil Armstrong’s underwear. ©Renée Pfister Art & Gallery Consultancy, 2021.
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