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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier this week, while waiting for Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger’s presentation at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, I spent some time in the Amelia Earhart exhibit. And while I don’t think I’ll take up flying my own plane anytime soon, I keep thinking about getting some new luggage.
Amelia Earhart endorsed a long list of products ranging from cars, cigarettes and clothing to what one press release described as nothing less than “the first truly practical and genuine airplane luggage.”
Earhart may have disappeared in 1937, but it appears a line of luggage bearing her name was produced well into the 1990’s. And while I haven’t come upon anything from that line in the thrift stores near me, I did poke around the Museum of Flight gift shop to see if I could find something under $10 and “Amelia” for today’s Souvenir Sunday feature.
The only items that fit the bill were a few young adults books, including this one from the National Geographic Children’s Books series that includes photos, quotes from Earhart’s writings, theories about how she vanished, and maps of the route she followed on her last flight.