The more than 60,000 annual visitors to the New England Air Museum (NEAM) will enjoy new opportunities to experience the story of aviation with the support of a $230,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to fund a major renovation and reinterpretation project. The project includes major upgrades to the existing facilities as well as the development of new exhibits at the museum.
The project includes major improvements to the lobby which will seek to evoke the thrill of flight and the romance of air travel by creating the feel of a retro air terminal where visitors purchase “boarding passes” (instead of entrance tickets), and children are issued “passports to adventure” and “flight plans to discovery.” The passports would be stamped as the children move from exhibit to exhibit.
“This project, made possible by the generous support of the Hartford Foundation, will help the New England Air Museum create a more dynamic and relevant visitor experience as we celebrate the amazing ongoing role of Connecticut in aerospace history and technology, said Jerry Roberts, the New England Air Museum’s executive director. “Passing this legacy along to the next generation is an important part of our mission as well attracting visitors from near and far to better appreciate this unique New England story of innovation and Yankee ingenuity at its best!”
In addition to the lobby renovations, the project also involves the reconfiguration of current office and classroom space which will double classroom capacity to better accommodate more field-trip visitors. The project will also transform two large mezzanine areas into an additional 8,000 square feet of usable public space within the Museum’s current footprint; create elevated vistas of the museum’s aircraft collection; and construct three new staircases and two new elevators to improve access to the elevated area. Additionally, the project will create space for more exhibits, a research library, an aviator’s hall of fame, visible artifact storage, and a café on the mezzanine level. Finally, the project will include a reproduction of the historic 1951 Murphy Flight Control Tower including historic elements, into NEAM’s main hangar.
“The New England Air Museum is a significant cultural and educational asset in our region,” said Pete Rosa, senior program officer at the Hartford Foundation. “We are pleased to support this project which will dramatically improve the experience for NEAM’s visitors and enhance its education programs to students by providing them with a more authentic experience on aviation and its history and the important role it has played in our society.”
The total cost of the project is approximately $500,000 and is part of a larger $1.285 million ongoing capital improvement campaign to upgrade the Museum. Other funding for this effort will come from the State’ Bond Commission and the museum’s fundraising efforts and reserves.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrates 90 years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by gifts from thousands of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $620 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.