Duxford’s American Air Museum flying high after £3m refit

PUBLISHED: 14:57 18 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:57 18 March 2016

Peggy Albertson, who married an American airman, next to her wedding dress in the American Air Museum. PICTURE: Richard Ash.

Peggy Albertson, who married an American airman, next to her wedding dress in the American Air Museum. PICTURE: Richard Ash.

IWM

It’s got the best collection of American aircraft on display outside North America, and now the refurbished American Air Museum at Imperial War Museum, Duxford is open to the public after a £3 million facelift.

General view of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford, prior to the reopening on Saturday. PICTURE: Andrew Tunnard.General view of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford, prior to the reopening on Saturday. PICTURE: Andrew Tunnard.

The newly-transformed museum tells the story of Anglo-American collaboration in 20th and 21st century conflict, as seen through the eyes of the people linked with the aircraft and objects on display.

The museum tells the personal stories of 85 people whose lives have shaped or been shaped by their experiences of conflict.

It focuses on the key role played by American air power, in conflicts from 1918 to the present day, with dramatic displays of historic and contemporary aircraft.

IWM director-general Diane Lees said: “The transformed museum tells the story of the relationship between Britain and America in very human terms.

General view of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford, prior to the reopening on the 19th March, 2016. Photographed 15th March, 2016.General view of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford, prior to the reopening on the 19th March, 2016. Photographed 15th March, 2016.

“Personal stories come to the fore, vividly demonstrating the consequences of war in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

“From the pilot to the female riveter who built the aircraft, the African-American engineer who built the airfields to the courageous female journalist who reported on the action, visitors come face-to-face with people whose moving stories are inextricably linked with the formidable aircraft on display.

“The impact of global warfare is told from contrasting perspectives, giving visitors a rounded view of the lasting effect of contemporary warfare.”

When visitors enter the museum, they’ll immediately be faced with 18 aircraft, some suspended as in flight.

They’ll be introduced to the chronological themes of the exhibition – world wars, Cold War and war in the mountains and deserts, which looks at recent conflicts in the Middle East – through introductory films featuring some of the remarkable people they will encounter as they explore the museum.

Inga Grimsey of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which helped fund the project, said: “The museum has possibly the best collection of US military aircraft outside the USA.

“This project has given Duxford the opportunity to overhaul the displays and galleries and to bring many of the fascinating stories of the First World War, Second World War, and more recent conflicts to life in new and inspiring ways.”

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