Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart’s flight jacket – in Wyoming

AmeliaEarhart-LeatherJacket

Amelia Earhart flight jacket – courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West

I’m putting finishing touches on a presentation I’ll be making at the Washington Museum Association conference this week about objects museums have that they rarely or never show to the public.

One of the treasures I’ll be featuring is Amelia Earhart’s flight jacket.

Not the one she was wearing on that last flight, of course, but one she clearly treasured.

The jacket is in the collection of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming (formerly the Buffalo Bill Historical Center) and there are photographs from the 1920s and 1930s showing her wearing jackets that look just like this one.

According to the museum, Earhart wore this jacket during a two week visit to a friend’s Wyoming ranch in 1934, when she an her husband were on a delayed honeymoon – and when they asked the friend to begin building a cabin for them on property they’d purchased in the Cowboy State.

In 1937, as Earhart was preparing for what would become her final flight, she began sending personal possessions – including this coat – out to Wyoming to have for use in her cabin.

But, as we know, Earhart and and her navigator, Frederick Noonan, vanished over the South Pacific on July 2, 1937.

That cabin never got finished and the jacket ended up in storage at the museum.

AmeliaRanchPhoto-OnFence

Amelia Earhart with with Carl Dunrud, who was building a cabin for Earhart and her husband in Wyoming. Courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Charles J. Belden, photographer, 1934.

Finding Amelia Earhart – in Cleveland

hb with Amelia

I had the great pleasure of visiting the International Women’s Air & Space Museum this week for a tour and a look inside a few storage boxes, including one holding artifacts relating to Amelia Earhart.

Here are a few snaps from the visit:

Storage box - Amelia Earhart

Storage box for Amelia Earhart’s items at International Women’s Air & Space Museum

Amelia Earhart's flight suit

Amelia Earhart’s flight suit

Amelia Earhart's scarft

Amelia Earhart’s scarf

Helsinki Airport art cinema & Earhart’s plane twin

Helsinki movie

 

Helsinki Airport just opened a relaxation area.

Now there’s yet another cool amenity at that airport: an art cinema.

For the next six month’s the airport’s art gallery at gate 37 will be hosting an Art Cinema and showing the work of Finnish media artists.

First up: films about the Finnish people’s relationship with nature.

“Enter the red interior of ArtCinema. Take a seat and allow media art to steer your mind to another world. Return with a refreshed mind, and enjoy your flight,” said Art Cinema Anna Forsman in a statement. 

Amelia Earhart

And a new exhibit about Amelia Earhart is opening in Seattle on October 12 at the Museum of Flight.

“In Search of Amelia Earhart,” features a 1935 Lockheed Electra airliner that is the same type of plane as Amelia Earhart’s and one of only two in existence. This one has the same modifications as those made to Earhart’s plane and this one was flown around the world in 1997 on the 60th anniversary of Earhart’s global flight attempt.

For Museum of Flight, Seattle

The Museum’s Lockheed Electra passes Seattle on its final flight, Sept. 21, 2013. Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/The Museum of Flight.

The museum’s “Amelia” exhibit tells Earhart’s story through original photographs, newspapers, newsreel footage and Earhart’s personal belongings including her pilot’s helmet and goggles, and the only known surviving piece of the Lockheed Electra Earhart flew on her ill-fated flight around the world in 1937.

Not in that exhibit: Earhart’s iconic leather flight jacket which is in storage at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. More about that here.

The surprising home of Amelia Earhart’s flight jacket

Buffalo Bill

Courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West

I recently had the great pleasure of spending a day touring the five first-rate museums that make up the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. Formerly the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the recently expanded center is home to the Cody Firearms Museum, The Plains Indian Museum, The Draper Natural History Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum and, my favorite, the Buffalo Bill Museum, which tells the story of the American West through both the private life of William F. Cody and his public life as the showman who created the pageant known as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

Buffalo bill poster

One of the great treats during my day at the museum with a few other journalists was going on a private tour with the curator of each museum and having a chance to see the back rooms.

And – lo and behold – when we went behind the scenes at the Buffalo Bill Museum with John Rumm, senior curator of American History and the curator of the museum, he showed us a box that contained Amelia Earhart’s leather flight jacket. This is the jacket Earhart is  seen wearing in a lot of photographs from the 1920s and 30s and which she likely wore on her historic flight across the Atlantic.

AmeliaEarhart-LeatherJacket

Light brown leather jacket owned and worn by Amelia Earhart on several of her historic flights. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY, USA.

What’s that jacket doing in the collection of the Buffalo Bill Museum?

According to Rumm, Earhart and her husband, George Palmer Putnam, had bought property in Wyoming around 1934 from a friend of theirs, Carl Dunrud, and asked him to begin building a cabin on the site.

Then, in 1937, before heading out for that ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the world, Earhart began sending Dunrud some of her personal possessions for safekeeping. Included among those items was the flight jacket and a buffalo coat from the 1870s (below) given to her by the Western movie star William S. Hart.

AmeliaEarhart-BuffaloCoat

Rumm says for many years the buffalo coat was displayed and identified as having belonged to Buffalo Bill. But when Rumm took a close look at the records, he cleared up that mistake.

AmeliaRanchPhoto-OnFence

Amelia Earhart and Carl Dunrud at the Double D Ranch in northwest Wyoming, ca. 1935. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY, USA.

 

Bonus features on Oakland Int’l Airport website

Poke around on some airport websites and you’ll find some fun, surprising and educational stuff.

Case in point: the Oakland International Airport (OAK) site, which has a link to the Exploratorium’s instructions on how to fold a paper airplane, information about the Oakland Aviation Museum, which sits on the airport’s North Field,

and a great historical video about the history of the airport and its connections to Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and other aviation pioneers.

You can watch the entire 20-minute video, or see bite-size segments of the film on the OAK website.