Located in Tukwila, just south of Seattle, the Museum of Flight recently celebrated its 55th anniversary at the King County International Airport. This privately-owned museum is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, attracting over 500,000 visitors per year. It is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
This Seattle flight museum boasts such historical aircraft as President John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One, the only Concorde on the west coast, and multiple World War I and World War II fighter jets. That’s only the beginning-the museum also houses over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, priceless artifacts, a massive aerospace and aviation library, and millions of photographs.
The Museum of Flight was initially founded in 1965 by the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation. To fund the 16-year restoration of a 1929 Boeing plane, the foundation decided to create a museum where the aircraft could be displayed upon completion.
In 1985, the Harl B. Brackin Library was founded at the Museum of Flight. It currently contains over 66,000 books and 100 periodicals. In 2017, the Museum of Flight launched a digital repository featuring digitized materials from the library, the archives, and artifacts. The Museum of Flight Archives began to make their digital archival collection available online in a searchable database in April 2019.
The Museum of Flight also offers simulator experiences and exhibits. The Challenger Learning Center opened in 1992 to allow visitors to experience a Space Shuttle mission through a hands-on NASA mission control while also completing space research experiments. The interactive Air Traffic Control tower exhibit, completed in 1997, shows visitors to this Seattle museum exactly what it’s like to be an air traffic controller.
The museum also serves over 140,000 students through multiple onsite programs throughout the year. These programs include a summer camp, the Challenger Learning Center, and an Aviation Learning Center. The museum also supports a traveling flight outreach program that visits locations in Washington and Oregon to expand their reach.
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