Forrest Myers

Forrest Myers, born in Long Beach, California, studied at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1958 to 1960 and moved to New York in 1961. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. One his best known works is Moon Museum from 1969, which is now on the moon. Moon Museum is a small ceramic wafer three-quarters of an inch by half an inch in size, containing artworks by six prominent artists from the late 1960s. The artists with works in the “museum” are Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Forrest Myers, and Andy Warhol. This wafer was supposedly covertly attached to a leg of the Intrepid landing module, and subsequently left on the moon during Apollo 12. The Moon Museum is considered the first Space Art object. While it is impossible to tell if the Moon Museum is actually on the moon without sending another mission to look, many other personal effects were smuggled onto the Apollo 12 lander and hidden in the layers of gold blankets that wrapped parts of the spacecraft.

Forrest “Frosty” Myers brainstormed the concept for Moon Museum. He stated that “my idea was to get six great artists together and make a tiny little museum that would be on the moon.” Myers attempted several times to get his project sanctioned by NASA. He claims the agency gave him the runaround and, Myers states, “They never said no, and I just could not get them to say anything.” Instead of going through the official channels he was forced to take the back route and try to smuggle it on board.

Myers contacted Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a non-profit group that was linking artists with engineers to create new works. Through E.A.T., Myers was introduced to some scientists from Bell Laboratories, specifically Fred Waldhauer (the Moon Museum chip in Free Enterprise is one of about twenty that were produced, many owned by Waldhauer, and is being lent by his wife, Ruth Waldhauer). Using techniques normally used to produce telephone circuits, the scientists etched the drawings Myers had gathered onto small ceramic wafers. One the twenty wafers went on the lunar lander and the rest, copies of the original, handed out to the artists and others involved in the project.

When NASA dithered whether the wafer would be allowed onto the module, Waldhauer devised another plan. Waldhauer knew a Grumman Aircraft engineer who was working on the Apollo 12 lander module, and he proved willing to place the wafer on it. Myers asked Waldhauer how he would know if the art actually made it onto the lander, and was told that the person who worked for Grumman would send him a telegram when the wafer was in place. At 3:35 p.m. on November 12, 1969, less than two days before Apollo 12 took off, Myers received a telegram at his house from Cape Canaveral, Florida stating “YOUR ON’ A.O.K. ALL SYSTEMS GO,” and signed “JOHN F.” The existence of the work was not revealed until Myers informed The New York Times, which ran an article on the story two days after Apollo 12 left the moon and two days before they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Apollo 12 was the second moon landing. It touched down November 19, 1969, crewed by Charles Conrad Jr., Richard F. Gordon and Alan Bean, who has since become an artist.


• left: Moon Museum, 1969, ceramic wafer, .75 x .5 inches. There are six artworks located on the ceramic tile, each one in black and white only. Starting in the top center is a single line by Robert Rauschenberg. To its right is a black square with thin white lines intersecting, resembling a piece of circuitry, by David Novros. Below it is John Chamberlain’s contribution, a template pattern that also resembles circuitry. In the lower middle is a geometric variation on Mickey Mouse, by Claes Oldenburg, a popular motif for the artist at that time. Myers created the work in the lower left, a computer-generated drawing of a “linked symbol” called “Interconnection”. Finally, the last drawing in the upper left is by Andy Warhol. He created a stylized version of his initials which, when viewed at certain angles, can appear as a rocket ship or a penis. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Moon Museum being held. Photo courtesy of the artist.

• Apollo 12 lander on the moon, 1969. The Moon Museum was hidden in the layers of gold blankets that wrapped the bottom module that remained on the lunar surface. Photo courtesy of NASA.