Dallas, Texas Museums
Museums to Enjoy in Dallas, Texas
By Sonja Stark
Proof of my fascination with flying materialized when I was six years old – re-enacting a “Mary Poppins” move from the top of my favorite willow tree. Luckily the branches broke my fall and I wound up with just a twisted ankle. Today, museums and air shows give me that same sense of invincibility and awe about flying – minus risking broken bones and upsetting parents.
If you follow air science technology, you know that Texas is known as the Aviation Capital of the World. It boasts some of the most impressive mothballed warbirds in the union. It also has the likes of eccentric mavericks likes Howard Hughes (born in Houston) continuing to invent flying machines on the fringes.
I visited the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field and the C.W. Smith American Airline’s exhibit for an educational, motivation and inspiring trip into aviation’s pioneering days.
Housed in a glass hangar, a restored 1940’s DC 3 welcomes visitors to the C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth. This museum follows the progress of commercial aircraft since the 1920’s, beginning with Charles Lindbergh. He flew a bag of mail in a DH-4 biplane from Chicago to St. Louis which became the first regularly scheduled flight of American Airlines.
Trivia alert: John Travolta frequents this museum for continual refresher courses in flying his own Boeing 707. Travolta is practicing to re-enact Charles Lindbergh’s nonstop solo voyage crossing the Atlantic during this summer’s 75th anniversary. The venture will be called the 13-city Spirit of Friendship Tour.
The Frontiers of Flight Museum has priceless artifacts any history buff would appreciate. It houses early items from the Hindenburg and Rosendahl Balloon and Airship days – all the way up to the re-useable Space Shuttle orbiter. Actual pilots retell their days of heroic missions with enthusiasm and delight.
National Womens’ Museum
Freya Stark and you have her last name, travel, and write!” berates the curator of the National Women’s Museum. “She’s is one of the most passionate and adventurous female explorers ever – someone whose byline reads ‘she dared to go where no man would go'”.
Located in a building that was once used for livestock shows, the restored 1909 Art Deco Colliseum is a centerpiece in itself. Rotting floors and giant holes in the roof have been repaired while curved redwood entry walls and the neon light cove were preserved.
An interactive “Wall of Words” written alongside a grand staircase lists 12 inspirational quotes including Susan B. Anthony’s “Failure is impossible” and Amelia Earhart’s “Courage is the price that life extracts from granting peace.”
On the second floor I’m drawn to kiosks that remind me of recent films: Margaret Sanger and Sarah Weddington for “Vera Drake”, Charlotte Woodward and Alice Paul for “Iron-Jawed Angels”, and Maya Lin for “A Strong Clear Vision”. All remarkable figures in America’s social, political, and cultural history.
Boy Scouts of America Museum
Other than the recent gay controversy swirling around this organization, I know virtually nothing about the Boy Scouts history.
As she leads me through an interactive display of 1,911 merit badge requirements and exhibits featuring council shoulder strips, religious and honor medals, I come to appreciate the organization’s enormous sense of pride, conviction and patriotic formality.
Leadership, respect, and responsibility are goals for growing boys and I learn that most of America’s most revered and influential men in life started out as Boy Scouts.
Animatronic activities, like the Fort Fun Laser Shooting Gallery and spelunking in the Venturing Cave, evolve into learning how to dissemble and repair a car engine, fix leaky plumbing and rewire a house – invaluable skills that too few men (and women) know how to do for themselves today.
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