Smithsonian opens special exhibit of NASA artwork

Saturday - 5/28/2011, 7:00am EDT

Martin Hoffman captures astronaut suit-up in a wholly original way through the television screens in the media area at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch pad can be seen in the distance beyond Banana River. It is one moment of calm before the frenzy of launch activity. (Courtesy NASA art program)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Engineers, pilots and physicists aren't alone in shaping NASA's legacy over the years. Artists also have been part of the space agency.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is opening an exhibit of more than 70 different artworks that present an insider's view of NASA since its early days. In 1962, NASA Administrator James Webb invited artists to illustrate and interpret the agency's mission and projects.

The exhibit, "NASA / Art," opens Saturday at the museum on the National Mall.

The pieces are a diverse collection from such renowned artists as Annie Leibovitz, Alexander Calder, Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol. The exhibit includes drawings, photographs, sculpture and other art forms. They come from collections at the Smithsonian and NASA.

The exhibit is on view in Washington through Oct. 9.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)