Sputnik Shines On

In 1957, the Soviet Union (now Russia) launched the Sputnik satellite. Their success inspired the creation of NASA in the United States, launching a space race that eventually put man on the moon.

Yet Sputnik had another impact – in interior design! All things space related became the craze, resulting in iconic pieces such as the Sputnik chandelier that hangs in our Decorative Arts Gallery:

Sputnik chandelier, Object No. 2009.255.1

Unique in shape, this chandelier commemorates the “Atomic Age” of design in the 1960s, part of the mid-century modern movement. Its design features many arms, each supporting a single uncovered lightbulb.

The chandelier originally hung in the Garrett Conference Center’s ballroom in the 1960s, but was moved to the Museum during renovations. Since 2009, the chandelier has hung in the Museum’s Decorative Arts Gallery, which contains nearly 500 items from Kentucky homes spanning the late 1700s to 1970s.

It has also been featured in several articles, including Kentucky Living’s search for 1963 in Kentucky, inspired by the TV show Mad Men, and articles about the Museum’s on-going Preservation Environment Improvement Project, initiated by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and focused on improving the Museum’s environmental systems to ensure proper preservation environments for galleries and storage spaces.

Want to help preserve this object? For $250, you can adopt the Sputnik chandelier – and be recognized in the mask’s KenCat and exhibit labels. Gifts can be made in one-time or installment payments, as an individual or in groups. Your gift provides funding to care for our decorative arts collection, ensuring the painting receives critical conservation care and supplies to keep it preserved and on display in select exhibits.

To adopt the chandelier, please complete this form, using the Notes section to indicate “Sputnik”.

Have questions? Please email Tiffany Isselhardt, Development and Marketing Manager, at tiffany.isselhardt@wku.edu

Published by kentuckymuseumwku

The Kentucky Museum is located in the Kentucky Building on the campus of Western Kentucky University. The Museum houses several changing exhibits. There are a variety of partnerships, services, opportunities, workshops, camps and other outreach provided to the public each year.