American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, started life in Wapakoneta, Ohio. His hometown now houses the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. One of its more unusual exhibits was a solid gold replica of the Lunar Excursion Module, the lander that carried Armstrong to the moon's surface in 1969. Thieves broke into the museum and made off with the model on Friday.
Famous French jeweler Cartier made the model, one of three presented to each astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission. The City of Wapakoneta Police Department issued a press release about the theft on Saturday, noting, "The value of such an item cannot be determined." The police are asking for the public's assistance in tracking down the replica.
The police provided an image of the model, which shows the painstaking detail that went into creating it. The Armstrong Air & Space Museum closed temporarily after the theft and issued this statement on Facebook:
"The truth is that you can't steal from a museum. Museum's don't 'own' artifacts. We are simply vessels of the public trust. Museums care for and exhibit items on behalf of you, the public. Theft from a museum is a theft from all of us. Three hundred people driving from across the country were robbed of their opportunity to experience the museum today. For every day that an item is missing, we are all robbed of an opportunity to enjoy it and our history."
The Ohio History Connection, the museum's parent organization, is the owner of the lander replica.
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