Twofer Tuesday – Space and Prison Museums

When Brady and I were not doing ball parks during our recent Texas trip we managed to visit three museums two of which I am going tell you about today. (The third museum, the Dallas Book Depository, where Oswald positioned himself to shoot JFK, I plan to discuss in a later post.)

In Houston we visited their most popular tourist site The Space Center Museum. It’s a big place with all sorts of photos, displays and interactive exhibits showing the history of our space program. Aimed at all ages, the Museum has a little bit everything space-related ranging from the actual moon rocks that the astronauts brought back from the moon to the following Festive Shirt exhibit that caught my eye.

And Here I Thought Buzzy’s Hawaiian Shirt Sunday Was Unique

But the definite highlight of the Space Center visit is a tram ride from the museum over to the actual Apollo Mission Control Center located in another building on the Space Center grounds. The Control Room has been restored to look exactly as it looked back in the day. We sat in what back then was seating reserved for VIPs and the astronauts’ family members. We then watched a video of the actual landing of Apollo 11 on the moon. It was all very cool. (I found this video that gives you a look at not only the Mission Control Center but also the overall museum itself (click here.)

Apollo Mission Control Center

The second museum that we hit was a bit of a contrast to our Space Center visit. While the Space Center was a huge, sprawling complex with over 400 artifacts and mission flown spacecraft, the Prison museum was much smaller and sited in just one building. No trams and no outside exhibits at the Prison Museum but it was just as informative and enjoyable as was the Space Center.

We discovered it on our way driving up to Dallas from Houston by stopping in Huntsville. The highway billboards advertised the Museum and urged you to drop in and see “Old Sparky” the electric chair responsible for 361 deaths.

The Space Museum may have had Mission Control; but the Prison Museum had Old Sparky. However, the Prison people did not show any videos of Sparky in action. (For a good article on the history of the electric chair (click here.) To see and hear more about the Prison Museum (click here.)

Despite the sometimes grim subject matter, all in all the Prison Museum was a nice museum complete with interesting articles, photos, artifacts and videos on the history of the Texas prison system. Granted, the subject matter was a little more say “down-to-earth” (sorry, could not resist) than was the Space Center’s, but hey, life is all about variety right?

Musically, on the Prison Museum’s wall of fame (shame?) is a plaque of their most infamous guest in the Texas prison system Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde fame. However, it was someone else on that display wall whom I was a little surprised to see also enshrined as a famous alum of the Texas prison system.

Seeing Dave so enshrined in the Texas Prison Museum and still remembering my previous day’s visit to the Space Center Museum, it made me think of this Byrds’ tune from their third album 5th Dimension:

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