FORT WORTH, Texas – The American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum is celebrating its 15 th anniversary in style, opening for 2008 with a fresh new look, expanded exhibits and a dramatic wall-size mural that can be seen from Highway 360 and even from the air by some passengers landing at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Since opening in July 1993, the C.R. Smith Museum, named for aviation pioneer and long-time American Airlines leader C.R. Smith, and located just south of DFW Airport at Highways 360 and 183, has welcomed more than 1.1 million visitors. But none has ever experienced quite the breadth and excitement of what the revitalized museum has to offer. “What we’ve done is build on an already great museum to take this remarkable facility to a new level of excellence,” said Jeffrey Johns, the C.R. Smith Museum’s Associate Director and Chief Curator. “With improvements to our theater, a new energy-efficient lighting system, and expanded exhibits with interactive displays, we’ve significantly enhanced the museum as an educational resource for everyone, but most especially children.”
To build on its educational experiences, the museum re-launched its popular Eagle Aviation Academy program in 2006 for fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, and will use the educational tools created by the expanded exhibits to establish expanded outreach programs to give young people throughout North Central Texas new insights into commercial air travel and careers in aviation.
“We see the C.R. Smith Museum as a living facility and an educational resource for the entire community,” Johns said.
To help redevelop its core exhibit, the museum selected the Freeman Company, one of the world’s leading providers of integrated services for expositions, corporate events and exhibits. Drawing on proven expertise with interactive environments, Freeman, based in Dallas, delivered a full spectrum of services, from environmental and graphic design, content development and audio-visual production, to exhibit fabrication and installation. “Our Freeman team was a tremendous asset throughout all phases of the project,” Johns said.
With more than 35,000 square feet of exhibit space, including a 10,000-foot “hangar” facility that houses the Flagship Knoxville, a fully restored 1930s-era American Airlines DC-3 that began service in 1940, the C.R. Smith Museum’s main function is to preserve and interpret the history of American, American Eagle and the air transportation industry. But education and outreach have always been a big part of its mission. This accounts for the many school groups who have visited the facility over the years and a guest-lecturer program that has attracted such noted figures as astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who made the first moon walk with partner Neil Armstrong; actor and aviation enthusiast Cliff Robertson; Sergei Khrushchev, son of former Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev; renowned travel journalists Rick Steves and Peter Greenberg; pioneering test pilot Chuck Yeager; and the late Ret. Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets, pilot of the B-29 bomber Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.
“We want to build on this tradition of outreach and education as we strengthen the C.R. Smith Museum’s standing as one of the nation’s premier airline and aviation museums,” Johns said.
A 1,600-square-foot museum gift shop is located near the facility’s main entrance and central lobby area and offers a wide variety of historical aviation memorabilia and contemporary gift items. Enthusiasts can also shop for merchandise online at the gift shop’s Web site. Go to www.crsmithmuseum.org, then click on the link for the online gift catalog from the main page.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE C.R. SMITH MUSEUM REVITALIZATION
A new large-format, HD digital projection system has been installed in the Museum’s 114-seat theater, a popular feature with visitors. The new system now allows the Museum to show any digital image. In conjunction with this upgrade, the Museum has completed a digital conversion of the 70mm IWERKS film “Spirit of American”, a soaring panorama of the people, aircraft and worldwide destinations of American Airlines.
New Historical Walkway
As visitors exit the Museum’s theater, they now move to the main exhibit area along a redesigned walkway that features an entirely new treatment of wall art. The display highlights American’s Flagship Service Program, including the complimentary limousine service from hotels that was launched in 1936 and ran through the 1940s. The artwork includes a giant vintage photo of a Flagship Limousine, a large photo of a DC-3 Flagship, an enormous recreation of a Flagship Service ad, and Flagship flags that were flown from American’s DC-3s and limousines. Together, the scenes help tell the Flagship Service story.
Renovated and Updated History Circle
A great deal of work has been devoted to completely redesigning the Museum’s main History Circle, which has been renamed “An American Journey.” The exhibit’s historical scope spans from American’s early history in the 1920s to the present, and covers the amazing histories of both American and American Eagle. The entire exhibit has a fresh, new look and employs interactive stations – positioned at a child’s average height – that make everything more interesting and educational for young people. As part of the redesign, 53 frontline employees and retirees share their stories through five oral history stations, adding more depth and meaning to the Museum experience. Called “An American Journey,” the History Circle exhibit is presented in five broad historical eras, each with a panel above its displays featuring key historical events and people of the period. The eras are:
1934 – 1945 – A formative period when American Airlines was founded under the leadership of C.R. Smith and the airline pioneered such innovations as the DC-3 and the Admirals Clubs. During World War II, much of American’s efforts were concentrated on the war effort, with C.R. Smith helping to organize, and then run, the military’s Air Transport Command (ATC) – the largest airline ever assembled, with more than 300,000 military and civilian personnel. Smith entered the ATC as a Colonel, but was soon promoted to Deputy Commander of the massive operation with the rank of Major General. The history panel for the era features track star Jesse Owens winning at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and Amelia Earhardt, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
1946 – 1958 – In the post-war era, American broadens its operations, flying farther and faster with DC-6 aircraft, serving 16 countries with an international unit called American Overseas Airlines (AOA), and introducing the age of electronic reservations with a system called the Magnetronic Reservisor. The history panel for this era features President Truman after winning the 1948 election, U.S. Marines in battle during the Korean War, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at her coronation in 1953, Russian Premier Josef Stalin lying in state in Moscow in 1953, Elvis Presley performing, and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.
1959 – 1970 – In this era, American helps open the jet age with Boeing 707s and 727s, introducing the nation’s first nonstop cross-country jet service. American is also in the forefront of centralized pilot and flight attendant training, and looks to the future with orders for Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jumbo jets. Featured on the history panel for this era are President Kennedy with his children in the Oval Office, actor John Wayne visiting troops in Vietnam, Martin Luther King delivering his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington in 1963, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969, the Beatles in performance, and President Nixon with Elvis Presley at the White House in 1970.
1971 – 1994 – This was an era of major change and expansion for American. The airline became a major international carrier in the period, expanding to Europe, the South Pacific, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Relocating its headquarters to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, in 1979, American led the industry in adjusting to airline deregulation, building major hubs at DFW, Chicago, Miami and San Juan, and creating regional affiliate American Eagle. The airline also established a new maintenance base at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, and brought five new jet aircraft into the fleet: The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-11, the Fokker 100, the Boeing 767 and the Airbus A300. Albert V. Casey joined American to assume its leadership in 1974. He was succeeded by Robert L. Crandall in 1985. The history panel for this era shows Marine wives welcoming back POWs in 1973, President Carter with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt President Anwar Sadat at Camp David in 1978, the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1981, the swearing in of President George H.W. Bush in 1989, a demonstrator in front of a tank in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, and Jacqueline Kennedy welcoming former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to the JFK Library in 1992.
1995 – The Present – This is a period of enormous challenge for American and the entire airline industry as it works to recover from the devastating effects of 9-11. American’s efforts are led by Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey, who succeeded former Chairman Donald Carty in 2003. American’s recovery is built around a broad restructuring of its costs, achieved hand in hand with employees, and the initiatives of a four-part Turnaround Plan. In this era, regional affiliate American Eagle begins flying regional jets, and American moves aggressively to strengthen itself with initiatives such as Fuel Smart, which saves on fuel and cuts expenses, and efforts to keep aircraft maintenance in-house and attract work from others. The history panel for this era includes President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1995; the devastated remains of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City after the bomb blast in 1995; British Prime Minister Tony Blair with President and Mrs. Clinton in London in 1997; the Mars rover Sojourner after landing on Mars in 1997; U.S. Marines with artillery in Iraq in 2004, and President and Mrs. Bush at the Inaugural Parade in 2005.
Redesigned Inner Circle
After walking around the main exhibit, visitors are led to a completely redesigned Inner Circle that highlights the very essence of the company – its people. Displays in this area underscore the extraordinary diversity of the workforce, showing employees of American and American Eagle at work on the ground and in the air in places all over the globe. A new centerpiece of the redesigned space is a theater showing a dynamic, high-definition video entitled “An American Journey,” sponsored by American Express Travel. The space along the Inner Circle’s walls is organized into four theme areas, each featuring a core strength of American and its people. The themes are entitled: “Ingenuity of American,” “Voices of American,” “Heart of American,” and “Interdependence of American.” Three of the areas have a video display telling the story of that theme in graphics, photos, and videos.
Lighting System Changes
As part of its revitalization, the Museum has introduced a number of changes to the lighting system that will reduce its overall energy consumption by approximately 30 percent and give exhibits and artifacts added protection from damaging ultraviolet rays. The enhancements include the installation of several new layers of ultraviolet ray filtration throughout the Museum, a new led lighting system for display cases, and lower overall lighting levels. In addition to saving on energy, the effect of these changes will be to make the Museum more enjoyable for visitors and to better preserve its historical artifacts.
New Wall-Size External Mural
The entire east-facing glass wall of the Museum’s hangar building is now covered with a massive 17-foot-by-117- foot mural that features an American Airlines Boeing 777 banking through the clouds. The mural, specially designed for this purpose and installed as part of the revitalization, is clearly visible to motorists as they pass the Museum driving north or south on Highway 360, as well as to passengers from the air as their flights approach DFW Airport from the south for landing. The mural serves three purposes, calling attention to the C.R. Smith Museum, reducing damaging light levels within the Museum, and lessening the impact of solar radiation which saves on cooling costs. The mural’s design is such that visitors inside the hangar can see through it to the outside. This means they can still watch landing aircraft go by as they approach Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
About American Airlines
American Airlines is the world’s largest airline. American, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection® airlines serve 250 cities in over 40 countries with more than 4,000 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 1,000 aircraft. American’s award-winning Web site, AA.com, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve nearly 700 destinations in over 140 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, the AmericanConnection® airlines, AA.com and AAdvantage are registered trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR)
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