About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Apollo 11

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
July 18, 2019

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join for tonight’s special screening of Apollo 11.

Tonight’s program is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Boeing Company, and we thank them for their support.

This week, we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic flight of Apollo 11 and the first Moon landing.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will show two films about the mission. At noon, we will screen Mare Tranquilitatis, episode six of the critically acclaimed 1998 HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, and at 3 p.m. we will show Moonwalk One, a 1970 NASA documentary.

And on Saturday, July 20, at 2 p.m., we will screen the 2018 feature film, First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.

Upstairs in the East Rotunda Gallery, be sure to see our special display of four documents that show the multitude of smaller steps and details that were necessary to the success of the Apollo 11 mission. The records include the flight profile for the entire eight days of the mission, the plan for the hour that the Lunar Module landed on the Moon, pages of the Moon landing transcript, and a card that details the itinerary the astronauts were to follow during their Moon walk.

Those documents will be on display through August 7.

To keep informed about events throughout the year, check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Check out their website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

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Tonight’s film is especially meaningful for us at the National Archives because the documentary features previously unseen large-format film footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings from the National Archives. Staff in our Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch and the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, as well as in various other offices across the agency, were critical in enabling access to and digitization of these holdings.

Their contributions to the Apollo 11 documentary underscore the importance of our mission. By preserving and making accessible these film reels, they have given the world an unprecedented and breathtaking glimpse of this historic milestone.

After the film, we’ll hear the inside story from the head of our Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch—Dan Rooney—with the film’s director Todd Douglas Miller and producer Thomas Petersen. And we have NASA Historian Bill Barry here to moderate. 

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And now it’s my pleasure to the director of Apollo 11, Todd Douglas Miller, who will lead us into the film. Todd is best known for his award-winning films Apollo 11 and Dinosaur 13.  Apollo 11 premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Grand Jury Prize for Editing, and the film also received the 2019 Stephen Hawking Science Communication Medal. Dinosaur 13 premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win an Emmy Award. His other films include Gahanna Bill, Scaring the Fish, and The Last Steps. He is the founder and co-owner of Statement Pictures, which produces feature films and documentaries.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Todd Douglas Miller.