Spacewalk at Roswell Space Center
Roswell, New Mexico
Spacewalk, wedged into the back of the Roswell Space Center gift shop, was built by Larry and Sharon Welz. They weren't scientists, they were artists -- Larry drew underground comic books in the 1960s and '70s -- and their experience in large-scale design was in painting carnival rides and black light Laser Tag courses. Spacewalk was created for the 2000 Roswell UFO Festival, and the Welzs enjoyed it so much that they moved a truncated version into the Roswell Space Center when they bought it in 2006.
What Spacewalk is -- and Larry and Sharon credit each other for the idea -- is a mysterious walk-through "machine" that shows Roswell's past and future (Roswell is the "epicenter of the future," according to Larry).
Moody, spacey music plays as you grope your way past glowing dioramas of the first atomic explosion, the arrival of Roswell's aliens, and a September 1953 broadcast of I Love Lucy from Akron, Ohio.
"Hours after that broadcast, thousands of UFOs appeared," explained Pat Jennings, who was running the gift shop when we visited. "It probably drove 'em nuts."
Spacewalk follows 1953 with a vast leap in time (necessitated, said Larry, by a lack of space) onto the deck of a galactic cruiser, thousands of years in the future. A spinning disco ball adds atmosphere as you gaze out on alien worlds. Two steps away is another vista, of a city in the far-distant future. It might be Roswell, said Larry, but it might also be just a piece of art that he didn't know what else to do with. Then you walk through a curtain and back into the gift shop.
Spacewalk's creators are happy that their idea has survived to become a roadside attraction, much like the places whose neon colors inspired it. "You should go through when it's nighttime," said Sharon. "It's really intense; really bright. It just knocks you out."