Space artifact or Nazi weapon? Displaying the Smithsonian's V-2 missile, 1976-2011


Creator: DeVorkin, David H


Date: 2011

Citation: Endeavour 35, No. 4 (Journal)

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact
Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


Traces the display of the German V-2 rocket after World War II at the National Air and Space Museum. In its initial years of display, it is treated as a "true cross" of technological advance in the Space Age. Later, its construction is placed in the context of Nazi concentration camp labor and its purpose as an object of war. The authors discuss the role of controversial objects in museums in general terms, relating the V-2 missile case to the many objects that have been interpreted and reinterpreted at the National Museum to avoid, to provoke or to respond to controversy.


  • National Air and Space Museum (U.S.) Dept. of Astronautics
  • National Air and Space Museum


Smithsonian History Bibliography


Image is the installation of the V-2 rocket in the Space Hall in the new National Air and Space Museum building in 1976. Negative number 76-7010-16A, by Richard Farrar.

Contained within

Endeavour 35, No. 4 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Controversies
  • Rockets (Ordnance)
  • Exhibitions
  • Rocketry
  • Rockets (Aeronautics)
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • V2 Rocket



Physical description

Number of pages: 9; Page numbers : 187-195

Full Record

View Full Record