The Dutch national museum said Thursday that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.
Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation that proved the piece was a fake, said the museum will keep it anyway as a curiosity.
“It’s a good story, with some questions that are still unanswered,” she said. “We can laugh about it.”
The museum acquired the rock after the death of former prime minister Willem Drees in 1988. Drees received it as a private gift on Oct. 9, 1969 from then-U.S. ambassador J. William Middendorf during a visit by the three Apollo 11 astronauts, part of their “Giant Leap” goodwill tour after the first moon landing.
Middendorf, who lives in Rhode Island, told Dutch NOS news that he had gotten it from the U.S. State Department, but couldn’t recall the exact details.
The U.S. Embassy in the Hague said it was investigating the matter.
The museum had vetted the moon rock early on by checking with NASA, Van Gelder said.
The Dutch national museum says one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood. The museum acquired the rock after the death of a former prime minister, who received it in 1969 from the then-U.S. ambassador during a visit by the Apollo 11 astronauts. (AP Photo/Rijksmuseum)
She said the space agency told the museum then that it was possible the country had received a rock: NASA gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries in the early 1970s, but those were from later missions.
“Apparently no one thought to doubt it, since it came from the prime minister’s collection,” Van Gelder said.
The rock is not usually on display; the museum is primarily known for its paintings and other works of fine art by masters such as Rembrandt.
It was on show in 2006 and a space expert informed the museum it was unlikely NASA would have given away any moon rocks three months after Apollo returned to Earth.
Researchers from Amsterdam’s Free University said they could see at a glance the rock was not from the moon.
“It’s a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone,” Geologist Frank Beunk said in an article published by the museum.
Capture the Flag: Rebels & Rainbows 2015-07-02 5:24
The White House turned into a rainbow as the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide, bypassing state sovereignty. While the country is wooed with rainbow magic, have they now forgiven the government of their many trespasses? How concerned are they about human rights, while removing the Confederate flag in the south? Tearing down one symbol and lifting up another ...
Facebook looks to reduce white share of staff 2015-07-02 3:52
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has voiced a desire to transform the demographics of Facebook's employee base to better echo the company's billion-plus international users. However, Facebook's most recent diversity report revealed that white men continue to have a claim on positions at Facebook.
The online social networking service claims that diversity is central to the company's mission, observing &"Our work is producing ...
New DOJ Statistics on Race and Violent Crime 2015-07-02 2:36 Numbers finally include Hispanics as an offender category.
Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has just published a table of statistics on race and violent crime that she received from the Department of Justice. For the first time in figures of this kind, DOJ has treated Hispanics as a separate category rather than lumping them in with whites. These data cover all ...
Fanning the Flames of Another Black Church Arson Hoax 2015-07-02 0:57
America is still reeling from the horrific Charleston, S.C., massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that claimed the lives of nine innocent people.
The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated “epidemic” of black church arsons.
On Monday, a Baltimore Sun lead editorial decried “a series of mysterious ...
Cold War Redux: Do you want to fight in World War Three? 2015-07-02 0:04
The rhetoric coming of Washington is pushing us dangerously close to a world changing scenario.
In the following episode of CrossTalk, Peter Lavelle discusses the way Russia and Putin are being framed by Western governments and mainstream media with guests including Chris Hedges. The dangers of ignoring historical context when reporting ‘news’ is examined, along with the pure ‘imperial hubris’ of ...