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Space Race Abroad: Local Trio Traveling to Slovakia To Oversee Traveling Artifacts

Dale Capps’ toolbox is already in Slovakia.

As general manager of SpaceWorks, he’ll use it when he arrives in the capital city of Bratislava on Saturday, along with SpaceWorks technician Don Aich and Cosmosphere collections manager Shannon Whetzel. The three are traveling to the small country in Central Europe near the Austrian border to take down and load up the artifacts on loan for a traveling exhibit that will soon head for Lisbon, Portugal.

A large promotion company, “JVS” – Just View the Show – is leasing the artifacts for five years of traveling exhibitions. Back in April, several representatives from the company were in Hutchinson to select which items they wanted to include as they told the story of the space race, beginning with novelist Jules Verne and the fathers of modern rocketry. One of the most popular items in the exhibit is a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, according to Cosmosphere President Jim Remar.

Staff provided JVS with a list of potential artifacts that they narrowed down to 200-plus items. The Cosmosphere doesn’t loan artifacts to just anyone. They must be people who know how to properly exhibit and insure each item.

“We have a number of loans. With 10,000 artifacts and seven to eight percent on display, it’s an opportunity to share all over the world. For us it’s also a great opportunity to be involved with the venue,” said Remar. “But also for our staff to see the world.”

As part of the arrangement, JVS pays for the Cosmopshere’s support and to send its technicians to install the exhibit at the beginning of each show and then to load out at the end. Along with the loaned items, JVS has also purchased replicas that Capps and Aich created at SpaceWorks. The Hutchinson technicians will set up the exhibition in Lisbon in March and then take it down in six months, when Remar says it will head to Germany. This pattern will continue for about five years, allowing some of the Cosmosphere staff to travel around Europe.

“The show talks about and promotes the Cosmosphere. The international recognition is great for the Cosmosphere and our community,” Remar said.

They began talking with people from the JVS company in August 2015 and signed contracts in February 2016. Then representatives arrived in April and they began shipping items in June.

It will be a quick five-day trip for Capps, Aich and Whetzel. As they pack up the items that will go into storage before being shipped to Lisbon, Whetzel will do a condition report on everything. Capps and Aich will do any necessary restoration.

Capps admitted he loved seeing new places, though he could do without the hassles of today’s commercial air travel. The team had been to Slovakia to set up the exhibit in September. That’s when Capps first tried traveling with his much-needed toolbox. However, it didn’t arrive with his luggage. He’s hopeful it will be there waiting for him when he needs it during this trip.