“The largest private air and space museum in the world”, I’m informed by Wikipedia. And I believe it. This museum is massive. It’s pretty hard to write about a space so large with so many objects in it. It’s the kind of place that you could go to and could see different things every time.
I like planes, it’s a good job as there are a lot of them here. It was worth saving the ‘Great Gallery’, which is full to the rafters with them, until last and use it as a recovery space, or at least a break for the museum exhaustion you will inevitably succumb to. ‘What is this museum exhaustion? That makes it sound like it’s a bad museum!’ I can almost hear you thinking. Well, I’m not saying that this museum is in any way bad. The average human brain can concentrate for about 20 minutes before become distracted. To take on the information that this massive museum is brimming to the rafters with you will need to have breaks to keep going. Since less than 1% of people read all of the interpretation in a museum exhibition, those that attempt to do so would start to get distracted after their 20 minute attention span is up . . . this, my friends, is museum exhaustion. It’s not boredom, quite the opposite, it’s almost like the brain has becoming overwhelmed with information.
The Great Gallery makes for an excellently interesting museum exhaustion recovery space. You can have a bit of a sit back and appreciate the display. The lattice worked ceiling must be able to support a huge amount of weight; there are planes of all sizes suspended from it, making spectacular and dramatic use of the huge halls impressive height and width. The example of an early model of a flying car was a bit of a surprise here, but it seems construction of it was deemed too expensive to get it off the ground (boom).
The amount of interactives was impressive. Want to have a go at flying and landing a plane? Want to test a patient on a sickbay spaceship to find out what might be ailing them? Want to see how birds fly and have a go yourself? Such specially created interactives sit alongside real objects and written information making for an overwhelmingly immersive experience.
The Red Barn Gallery dedicated to Boeing was a brilliant. It is the original Boeing workshop which was purchased and moved to this location to be restored and opened as a museum gallery. Completely wooden, with an excellent use of black and white images and videos, the gallery also had examples of the frames for wooden planes, it had a completely different feel to the vast and darkly lit WW1 and WW2 galleries. There were also a type of mannequin I have never seen before . . . but I strangely liked (which is unlike me -you can read more about my mannequin rants here). They were lifelike in pose, but unlike plastic mannequins appear to be made of solid wax, so were unmovable and their muted colouring meant they did not look ‘alive’ and were not a distraction to the items they were displayed alongside.
A highlight for me was being able to walk the aisle of a Concorde, I certainly wasn’t expecting one to be there let alone to be able to climb aboard.