Every workday, Maureen Bourbin, Director of Collections and Exhibits, steps all over her museum’s most important artifact. Her office is on the second deck of the USS Hornet, in what used to be the ship’s TV station room. As one of only five aircraft carrier museums in the country, this museum is its own biggest and most important object.
The entire collection is housed on the ship as well. Staff are constantly climbing up and down ship ladders, and any objects moved in or out of storage must be carried on those ladders. Even emptying a humidifier tray is a balancing act.
But for Maureen, challenges such as these are part of the unique experience of working on the USS Hornet. This was the ship that, in 1969, went to meet the Apollo 11 astronauts when they landed in the ocean after taking humankind’s first steps on the moon. One of Maureen’s favorite artifacts is an original Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) installed on the aircraft carrier’s hangar deck. Sleek like an Airstream trailer, it is very similar to the MQF that quarantined the Apollo 11 astronauts on board the USS Hornet until NASA scientists were sure they were clean of any dangerous lunar germs that might contaminate Earth.
The USS Hornet Museum is located in Alameda, California, and is an Institutional Member at the Western Museums Association. The Museum works to preserve and honor the legacy ship itself—a national historic landmark—and its role in naval aviation, United States’ defense, the Apollo Program and exploration of space. In addition to the MQF and the ship itself, there is also a Flight Avionics Flight Simulator, other temporary exhibits, as well as community events.