The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is located at King County International Airport (also known as Boeing Field), a few miles south of downtown Seattle. The Museum resulted from a grass roots effort by aviation history enthusiasts in the mid-1960s. After several years of displaying its growing collection in a space at the Seattle Center, the Museum moved into the Red Barn® on land leased from the Port of Seattle. That building was the birthplace of The Boeing Company. It had been saved from demolition at its original location on the Duwamish River and floated by river barge to its current location, where it was restored. The barn was eventually joined by the Great Gallery in 1987, the Library and Archives Building in 2002, the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing and Airpark in 2004, and the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery in 2011. The Museum is now one of the largest private air and space museums in the world, showcasing a wide range of military and civilian aircraft. The Museum is operated by the Museum of Flight Foundation, which is governed by a Board of Trustees.
In 1988 the Museum opened its 23,000-square-foot restoration center on the east side of Paine Field. There visitors can see approximately three dozen aircraft in varying states of restoration, plus finished aircraft and hundreds of aviation artifacts. In the early 1990s the Museum of Flight began developing concepts to expand its Paine Field presence to provide housing for aircraft for which there was no room at its Seattle facility and to introduce its education programs to Snohomish County. By the mid-1990s the ideas included the Museum taking over the operation of the Boeing Tour (at no cost to the company) and incorporating the tour center into a new facility, along with education programs. The Museum worked with the Paine Field management exploring several possible building sites. At one point the Museum even considered moving all of the commercial aircraft in its collection to Paine Field. The Museum also made a formal proposal to The Boeing Company, pointing out that NASA, General Motors, Hershey Foods, Corning Glass and others had third parties operating their facility tours. The Boeing Company eventually declined the proposal, and the Museum tabled its northward expansion aspirations – until a new opportunity arose in 2001.