This past year has shown the challenges faced by aviation museums with the future of two facilities in doubt. The Canadian Air and Space Museum and National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome in Lelystad, Netherlands are both facing permanent closure.
I personally have been to the Aviodrome in Lelystad back in 2003, this facility was large and had an amazing collection including one of the last air worthy DC-2s in the world as well as a Replica of the old Schiphol terminal building from late 1920s. Like many non-profits they are seemingly facing hard times with creditors. The only information I currently have is that they could not come to terms and are temporarily closed to the public and are filing for bankruptcy as of Dec 25th. There is a group that according to the Dutch paper DePres.nl are looking to raise funds to pay off the debt before the February deadline where the aircraft and collection could go up for auction. A news broadcast in Dutch gives a short tour and talks about their problems. The concept of the Aviodrome closing is crushing to me, such an amazing facility and collection. This would be the equivalent of the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum closing here in the states.
The Canadian Air and Space Museum has been far more vocal about their current location and financial problems. They have a petition up on the web with over 8700 signatures, local and national politicians fighting for them and a tremendous amount of effort being spent on traditional and social medias. Currently they are fighting to save the building that they are in and prevent the required move. The museum is located in de Havilland factory building #1, and the Parc Downsview Park’s is planning on leveling the building (other then apparently “hundreds of feet” of the facade) and constructing indoor hockey rinks. Even with that there are of course funding issues if they have to move.
There is always hope and where some struggle others seem to flourish. There is the recent news of McAllister Museum of Aviation getting a large donation to start expansion. Texas A&M getting the Space Shuttle motion simulator and plans to keep it operational and open to the public. And most exciting the new Liberty Aviation Museum being built at the Erie-Ottawa Airport in Port Clinton Ohio, finally bring a permanent location to their centerpiece B-25.
As members of the greater aviation community we have to stand up and help these and other facilities that speak to us. Join the local museums, heritage centers, or historical societies, attend their fundraising activities, and promote them through your social circles. We cannot take it for granted that these places will always be here. With in the last few years I renewed my EAA member ship but this time as a Life Member and joined the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame also as a life member. I encourage you to in this coming year pick at least one organization that has a mission to preserve history and support them in some way and if you know of any other aviation organization doing good but struggling for their future please leave a comment below and tell us about them.