CINCINNATI (AP) — People wanting to pay their respects to Neil Armstrong and see an exhibit dedicated to his space exploit were waiting outside the doors for a Cincinnati museum to open Sunday, with more than 2,000 viewing the exhibit by the end of the day, museum officials said.
Armstrong, the first man on the moon, died Saturday in Cincinnati at 82. The Ohioan commanded the historic landing of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The exhibit dedicated to him at the Museum of Natural History & Science of the Cincinnati Museum Center includes a moon rock and replicas of Armstrong's Apollo 11 space suit and tools used on the moon. NASA allowed Armstrong and other astronauts to select sites for some moon rocks through its ambassadors for science program in 2006, and Armstrong chose the Cincinnati site, museum spokeswoman Elizabeth Pierce said.
The museum is offering free admission through Labor Day to honor Armstrong, and Pierce said there were people of all ages coming through Sunday to view the exhibit.
"People were stopping to take pictures, and you could hear parents telling their children about Armstrong and what he did," Pierce said.
Karen Danner, 41, of Cincinnati, heard about Armstrong's death and thought it would be a good time to take her daughter and a friend to see the exhibit.
"I wanted them to know about his accomplishments," said Danner, who said she always respected his courage.
"I can't imagine that anyone would take that kind of risk," she said. "I admire how brave he was and what he did for everyone."
Danner's 11-year-old daughter, Rosemary Danner, said the replicas of the space suit and tools used to dig rocks from the moon "are really cool."
"I think he was very brave," she said.
The museum is collecting comments from those visiting the exhibit, enabling them to sign a book with a comment about how Armstrong has inspired them
Pierce said the first response written Sunday was: "Nothing is impossible!"
Another visitor wrote that Armstrong's accomplishment and "quiet love of science" inspired him to get a doctorate in aerospace engineering.
George Vincent, a former chairman of the board for the Cincinnati Museum Center, said the day he presided over the ceremony in which Armstrong donated the rock was thrilling.
"Neil Armstrong was one of those people who — when you met him — was even better than you thought he would be," Vincent said.
Another Ohio museum planning to honor Armstrong is the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in his hometown of Wapakoneta.
Executive Director Chris Burton said the museum is planning a memorial service Wednesday that will be open to the public, but the plans have not been completed.
Burton said he didn't know how many people came through Sunday, but his staff said there were more visitors than usual, and many said they were there to honor Armstrong's memory.