Space-themed science fiction shares many characteristics with that other great American genre, the western. In the 1930s and 1950s, science fiction franchises like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Captain Video, and Space Patrol spawned a slew of merchandise similar to that of Roy Rogers, Red Ryder, and Davy Crockett. Curator Margaret A. Weitekamp presents space-themed toys from the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in a discussion how these toys encouraged our imaginations and our fascination with the “space frontier.”
This session was illustrated in real time. Click the thumbnail image to the left for an illustrated summary of this session.
Curator and award-winning author Margaret A. Weitekamp oversees more than four thousand pieces of space and science fiction memorabilia at the National Air and Space Museum. The collection ranges from toys and games to the an eight-foot lighted star she recently acquired for the Smithsonian from Astroland, a space-themed Coney Island amusement park that opened in 1962 and closed in 2008. She earned a B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. at Cornell University.