Politicians ponder airmail museum south of border

Legislation aimed at designating a historic aircraft hangar in Fort Wayne, Ind., as the site of a proposed National Airmail Museum was recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

During a floor debate aired by C-SPAN, Republican representative Jim Banks, of Indiana, said the hangar at Fort Wayne’s Smith Field “would be a great addition to my community and a vital tool to educate the American people on the significant role airmail played in the evolution of aviation.”

Banks added the designation would also “propel the ongoing initiative to preserve and share the history of airmail.”

Approved on April 26, the legislation also reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for six years.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette also reported the museum would be prohibited from using federal funds for development, which would instead be privately funded.


According to Tessellate, a full-service experiential design firm founded in 2013, Smith Field played a key role in U.S. airmail history and offers “a physical space and educational opportunity, which have been underutilized. In addition, the Fort Wayne region would benefit from a new tourist attraction as well as a cultural center for the local community.”

“Starting with the iconic airplane hanger, we designed a space that would inspire visitors by embodying the authenticity and new possibility of early twentieth century aviation. By accentuating the physical structure with its soaring ceilings and echoing those architectural details in the exhibit design, we created an immersive environment that embodies this vibrant tradition. This place, comprised of exhibit halls and a café, inspires visitors by teaching about the individuals and concepts that made Airmail service such an important American success story. The exhibits, including historical re-creation alongside technology and an active airplane restoration, bring the subject to life and encourage interaction between guests and museum staff. Our work on this project also includes drafting the proposals to secure the support of the financial and community partners required to realize this vision.”

The museum’s designers hope to attract tourists from out of the area.

“In addition, the flexibility for rotating exhibits and large scale event use ensure that the museum retains continued relevance for area residents. This combination of purposes serves to ensure the institution’s ongoing fiscal sustainability, while creating a unique and authentic place for educating and engaging a broad community.”

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