The Kansas Aviation Museum will host a ceremony Thursday to dedicate a new 6,500-square-foot archive center to house the most sensitive of its collection of artifacts.
“This is a huge milestone for the museum,” said Lon Smith, Kansas Aviation Museum executive director.
In the past, the museum has been criticized for the way it handles its artifacts, Smith said.
The new archival room now meets or exceeds archival storage requirements by the American Association of Museums.
It is controlled for humidity, light and temperature, Smith said.
The room will eventually consolidate three and a half rooms of the museum’s seven rooms now dedicated to storing 2 million artifacts or archival records, he said.
It will house the museum’s collection of historical negatives, photographs, magazines and periodicals, films and drawings.
That includes hundreds of rare, original drawings and blueprints of early production airplanes built in Wichita and in Kansas. During the 1920s, 30 or 40 companies were building airplanes in Wichita.
For example, the museum has all 29 original blueprints for the Swift Sport, an airplane manufactured in 1929, Smith said. Only eight planes were built before the company succumbed to the stock market crash and went out of business in 1930.
The project cost about $120,000 and doesn’t include the value of thousands of dollars in shelving donated by Bombardier Learjet or hours and hours of volunteer labor, Smith said.
The archival room was made possible by donations, including a major donation by Sensor Systems of California, a radar equipment company, Smith said.
“This represents the first major gift we received from outside the Wichita area,” Smith said of its donation.
The museum also received gifts from The Hypatia Club, Bombardier Learjet and the Lattner Family Foundation.
The open house will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kansas Aviation Museum, 3350 S. George Washington Blvd.
The dedication ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m.