Aviation History Museum Near Nation's Capital


The College Park Aviation Museum is a 27,000 square foot facility on the grounds of the world's oldest, continuously operating airport in College Park, Maryland. The museum opened in 1998 and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute. The airport by the museum was founded in 1909 when Wilbur Wright began flight instruction for military aviators at the location. The museum includes an open one and a half story exhibit space highlighitng unique aircrfat, aviation artifacts, and historical facts concerning the airport. In the gallery are reproductions of aircraft and a variety of hands-on activities for children and adults. Exhibits change on the regular basis, so guests are encouraged to visit frequently. This museum is considered the top aviation destination in Washington, D.C. It is located aproximately eight miles from downtown D.C., and is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Baltimoe. The museum can be easily accessed by car or public transportation.

The museum states their goal as researching, preserving, interpreting, and promoting the history and collections of the College Park Airport. They also share World War I era aviation history and provide education exhibits, programs, tours, and special events for the general public, field trips, and community tours. The airport is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and they have a 1919 airmal hangar and Compass Rose on the grounds. The runway is located just outside the glass windows of the museum and is fully operational. Kids will love watching airplanes take off and land while they tour the museum.

The Museum offers a curriculum-based school tour that is structured to meet Maryland's Voluntary State Curriculum. It is age based and includes a variety of interactive and hands-on exhibits, and gives teachers a chance to move their lessons from the classroom to an environment where children can experience the history of the airport.

The museum features a Prop Shop gift shop that is stocked with toys, gifts, books, and souvenirs. There is a wide range of items for a wide range of prices. Many of the toys are under $5, so children can leave with an affordable souvenir of their trip to the museum. Those attending a lecture or book signing are encouraged to check the shop before their event for materials written by the speaker. There are no indoor dining facilities at the museum, but if weather permits, guests are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the covered tables by the outdoor balcony. The eating space overlooks the airport runway. Dining amid the landings and takeoffs is a great wa to wrap up your trip to the museum.

The museum features a number of traveling exhibits during the year. Be sure to check their website to learn about upcoming events and exhibits before you plan your trip. Admission to the museum is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, and $2.00 for children over two. The museum is open each day from 10 - 5:00 pm, except for major holidays. A variety of other museums are located nearby including the Marietta House Museum, Montpelier Mansion, and Riversdale House Museum.

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