The Museum of Flight is a private non-profit air and space museum in the northwest United States. It is located at the southern end of King County International Airport (Boeing Field), in the city of Tukwila, just south of Seattle.〔("Museum of Flight." ) ''travel.yahoo.com.'' Retrieved: September 2, 2011.〕 It was established in 1965 and is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. As the largest private air and space museum in the world, it also hosts the largest K-12 educational programs in the world.
The museum attracts over 400,000 visitors every year. The museum serves more than 140,000 students yearly through both its onsite programs: a Challenger Learning Center, an Aviation Learning Center, and a summer camp (ACE), as well as outreach programs that travel throughout Washington and Oregon.〔("Museum of Flight/Aviation High Press Release" ) ''museumofflight.org'' Retrieved: September 8, 2011.〕
== History ==
The Museum of Flight can trace its roots back to the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation, which was founded in 1965 to recover and restore a 1929 Boeing 80A-1, which had been discovered in a landfill in Anchorage, Alaska. The restoration took place over a 16-year period, and after completion, was put on display as a centerpiece for the museum. In 1968, the name "Museum of Flight" first appeared in use in a 10,000-square-foot facility, rented at the Seattle Center. Planning began at this time for a more permanent structure, and preliminary concepts were drafted.〔
In 1975, The ''William E. Boeing Red Barn'' was acquired for one dollar from the Port of Seattle, which had taken possession of it after Boeing abandoned it during World War II. The 1909 all-wooden Red Barn, the original home of the company, was barged two miles (3 km) up the Duwamish River to its current location at the southwestern end of Boeing Field. Fundraising was slow in the late 1970s, and after restoration, the two-story Red Barn was opened to the public in 1983.
That year a funding campaign was launched, so capital could be raised for construction of the ''T.A. Wilson Great Gallery''. In 1987, Vice President George Bush, joined by four Mercury astronauts, cut the ribbon to open the facility on July 10,〔 with an expansive volume of . The gallery's structure is built in a space frame lattice structure and holds more than 20 hanging aircraft, including a Douglas DC-3 weighing more than nine tons.〔Ogden, 1986 p. 193.〕
The museum's education programs grew significantly with the building of a Challenger Learning Center in 1992. This interactive exhibit allows students to experience a Space Shuttle mission. It includes a mock-up NASA mission control, and experiments from all areas of space research.
Completed in 1994, the 132-seat Wings Cafe and the 250-seat Skyline multipurpose banquet and meeting room increased the museum's footprint to . At the same time, one of the museum's most widely recognized and popular artifacts, the Lockheed M-21, a modified Lockheed A-12 Oxcart designed to carry the Lockheed D-21 reconnaissance drones, was placed on the floor at the center of the Great Gallery, after being fully restored.〔Ogden, 1986 p. 194.〕
The first jet-powered Air Force One (1959–62, SAM 970), a Boeing VC-137B, was flown to Boeing Field in 1996; it arrived in June and was opened to visitors in October. Retired from active service earlier that year,〔 it is on loan from the Air Force Museum. Originally parked on the east side of the museum, it was driven across East Marginal Way and now resides in the museum's Airpark, where it is open to public walkthroughs.
In 1997, the museum opened the first full scale, interactive Air Traffic Control tower exhibit. The tower overlooks the Boeing Field runways, home to one of the thirty busiest airports in the country. The exhibit offers a glimpse into what it is like to be an air traffic controller.
The next major expansion was opened in 2004, with the addition of the ''J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing''. North of the Red Barn, the wing has of exhibit space on two floors, with more than 25 World War I and World War II aircraft. It also has large collection of model aircraft, including every plane from both wars.〔("General History Fact Sheet." ) ''The Museum of Flight,'' 2004. Retrieved: August 9, 2011.〕 Many of these aircraft were from the collection of the Champlin Fighter Museum, formerly in Mesa, Arizona,〔 which closed in 2003. The wing opened on June 6, the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day.〔
In June 2010, the museum broke ground on a $12 million new building to house a Space Shuttle it hoped to receive from NASA, named the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery.〔("Photo Gallery: How to display a retired space shuttle." ) ''Collect Space.'' Retrieved: February 4, 2011.〕 The new building includes multisensory exhibits that emphasize stories from the visionaries, designers, pilots, and crews of the Space Shuttle and other space related missions. The gallery opened to the public in November 2012.〔("Space Gallery Construction Has Begun." ) ''The Museum of Flight,'' 2010. Retrieved: March 30, 2011.〕
Though the museum did not receive one of the three remaining shuttles, it did receive the Full Fuselage Trainer (FFT), a shuttle mockup that was used to train all Space Shuttle astronauts.〔 Because it is a trainer and not an actual shuttle, certain groups will be allowed to tour its interior. The FFT began arriving in various pieces beginning in 2012. The cockpit and two sections of the payload bay arrived via NASA's Super Guppy.〔("Museum of Flight Awarded Full-Fuselage Shuttle Trainer." ) ''The Museum of Flight.'' Retrieved: 13 April 2011.〕
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