This has been an on-going issue for quite a while, but the proposed sale by Southeby’s of the Vostok 3KA-2 spacecraft that was used as the final testbed for Yuri Gagarin’s April 12, 1961, flight raises the issue once again. How do you feel about the sale to collectors—and in some cases museums, but few of those can afford to purchase high end artifacts—such items as the Vostok capsule, which at one time anyway was the property of the Soviet government? The sale will take place at an auction at Southeby’s in New York City on April 12.
Southeby’s lists the estimated cost of this sale as between $2,000,000 and $10,000,000. The capsule is the only Vostok spacecraft outside of Russia and the only one in private hands. Several museums in Russia have Vostok capsules on display. This one is, without question, a highly desirable artifact.
A brochure about the sale, and the capsule, is located at the auction website:
I can argue both sides of this issue. Part of me wants to see these artifacts in museums on public display; another part recognizes the desires of collectors (who might also loan them for public display) and their desire to ensure the object’s indefinite preservation. What do you think?