All systems appear go for a soft re-opening of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Aviation History in Hammondsport during Memorial Day weekend May 28-30, after a five-month, $1.2 million interior renovation launched in early January.
“The contractors tell me we’ll be ready,” said retiring museum Executive Director Trafford Doherty, looking around at exhibits still clustered under plastic covering. “So, we’ll be ready.”
The renovations are in response to the steadily increasing number of visitors at the museum, located on state Route 54 in Hammondsport and dedicated to native son and aviation pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss.
The project, through Elmira Structures Inc., includes expanding the visitor restrooms and doubling the size of the gift shop near the museum’s main entrance.
Staff offices, a kitchenette, bathrooms and storage will be on the newly built second floor, with a new board/conference room overlooking the museum floor. The conference room also will be available for community use, Doherty said.
Stairs and an elevator to the second floor complete the renovation paid for through donations collected during the past 15 years, a community fundraiser which brought in $100,000 and a matching $100,000 grant from the Mercury Aircraft Foundation.
“From the very beginning, the trustees wanted this renovation,” Doherty said. “They’ve worked long and hard for it.”
Doherty has worked long and hard, too, to bring national attention to Curtiss since he took on directorship duties at the museum in 2002.
Curtiss has long been an aviation history footnote in the national eye, his accomplishments eclipsed by the Wright Brothers’ historic, private first “heavier-than-air, powered aircraft” flight Dec. 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, N.C.
Yet Curtiss — who flew his June Bug more than 5,000 feet in public July 4, 1908 — built the aviation industry. Called the "founder of the American aircraft industry,” Curtiss’ extensive work with seaplanes also led to him being named “the father of naval aviation.”
An avid motorcyclist, Curtiss also won worldwide acclaim at major world motorcycle competitions.
Under Doherty’s time at the helm, visitors to the museum have increased from 16,000 to 24,000 annually, drawn by a variety of exhibits, increased promotions and documentaries airing on the History Channel and the National Geographic Channel.
The museum also received a 2015 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.
And once the dust sheets are pulled off the museum exhibits in May, and the last new door knob is installed, Doherty plans on sticking around for a little bit.
“Well, we’ve got the Curtiss Classic Motorcycle Weekend coming up. That’s Aug. 6,” he said, absent-mindedly wiping a speck of dust off an ancient plane wing. “There’s a lot of work to that. So I told the board I’d stay until after then.”
If you go
What: Glenn H. Curtiss Museum.
Where: 8419 State Route 54, Hammondsport, New York.
Hours: Summer hours, May 1-Oct. 31 are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Sundays.
Of note: Visitor access may be limited until the museum fully reopens on May 28. Visitors are advised to call in advance of their visit.
Original article can be found here: http://www.stargazette.com