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McDaniel senior’s paper on NASA art program takes top prize at History honors conference

McDaniel College

May 10, 2016

Senior Tracee Haupt took first prize at the Mid-Atlantic Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Conference for her paper, “The NASA Art Program: Technology, Art, and Contested Visions of Progress, 1962-1973,” which charted NASA’s efforts to use artists to help influence public opinion of the space program.

Haupt, who is double majoring in History and Art History, was a curatorial intern in the department of Space History at the National Air and Space Museum in D.C. when she became intrigued by the paintings and other works produced for the art program. She decided to delve into the story behind the program as an independent research project.

“In the ’60s people increasingly came to doubt the idea of science and technology as inherently beneficial, and NASA needed to find a way to assuage the public's doubts and fears about the space program,” says Haupt of Middletown, Md. “NASA thought that art could provide a more humanized image of space technology and communicate the emotional impact that had been missing from photographs and videos.”