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Kansas Aviation Museum to dedicate new archive center

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 7, 2012, at 2:12 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

The Kansas Aviation Museum will host a ceremony today to dedicate a new 6,500-square-foot archive center, which will house the most sensitive pieces of the museum’s artifacts collection.

“This is a huge milestone for the museum,” said Lon Smith, Kansas Aviation Museum executive director.

He said the museum has been criticized for the way it handles its artifacts, which includes original drawings and blueprints of the first airplanes built in Wichita and Kansas. The archival room meets or exceeds archival storage requirements by the American Association of Museums. It is controlled for humidity, light and temperature, Smith said.

The room will consolidate three and a half rooms of the museum’s seven rooms now dedicated to storing its 2 million artifacts or archival records, he said.

The archive center eventually will house the museum’s collection of historical negatives, photographs, magazines and periodicals, films and drawings. That includes hundreds of rare, original drawings and blueprints of early production airplanes built in Wichita and in Kansas.

For example, the museum has all 29 original blueprints for the Swift Sport, an aircraft company founded in 1929, Smith said. Only eight planes were built before the company succumbed to the stock market crash and went out of business in 1930, he said.

The project cost about $120,000 and doesn’t include the value of thousands of dollars in shelving donated by Bombardier Learjet or hours of volunteer labor, Smith said.

The archival room was made possible by donations, including a major donation by Sensor Systems of California, a radar equipment company, Smith said. He said it was the museum’s first major gift from outside the Wichita area. The museum also received gifts from the Hypatia Club, Bombardier Learjet and the Lattner Family Foundation.

The open house will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. today at the Kansas Aviation Museum, 3350 S. George Washington Blvd. The dedication ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com

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