Error Of The Week (12)

Red faces all round at the Rijksmuseum the other day when they found out that what they thought was a piece of rock brought back to Earth from the moon by US astronauts was a piece of petrified wood.

An easy mistake to make, perhaps, as the Amsterdam museum had acquired the item from the estate of former Prime Minister, Willem Drees, in 1988. He in turn had been given it by the then-US ambassador, J William Middendorf, on October 9, 1969 as a souvenir as part of the “Giant Leap” tour involving the three Apollo 11 astronauts who went to the moon.

Or did they? Perhaps this gives more grist to the speculation that it was all a bit of a hoax.

The museum claim that they checked the object’s provenance in a phone call with NASA when they inherited it, but they have only got round to checking its composition.

According to its spokesperson, Xandra van Gelder, the Rijksmuseum will be keeping it as a curiosity.

I just want to confirm that the piece of cheese loitering at the back of our fridge wasn’t from the moon either.

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