Faced with the impending closure of the City Centre Airport, the Alberta Aviation Museum has announced plans to split its collection and open a brand new museum.
With just under two weeks to go before the airport’s last runway closes, the new museum, which will be housed at a 13-acre site at the Villeneuve Airport, was announced this weekend.
Tom Hinderks, executive director of current museum, said the airport’s closure forced them to expand.
“We basically had two options and it was either cut back the collection, cut back operations and dispose of artifacts or take a different point of view and push forward,” he said.
Hinderks said the new museum, called the Alberta Flying Heritage Museum, will be much more interactive than the current one.
“Most of the aircraft we have on that site will operate and will operate regularly,” he said. “There will be more aircraft that you can get into, that children will be able to get into.”
The current museum will remain in place, Hinderks made clear, but will operate more as a traditional museum and will focus specifically on Edmonton’s aviation history.
In addition to the land, Hinderks said Transport Canada has agreed to donate a building that will be dismantled and moved from the City Centre Airport to Villeneuve.
With the runway at the City Centre Airport set to close Nov. 30, Hinderks said their main focus now is getting the planes off the property and out to Villeneuve. He said the largest plane is going to be a tough one to get out.
“The most critical piece is the 737. We do not know if it is going to be able to get out. We are still working on it,” he said.
After that, the new museum, which will be kept entirely separate from the current museum, will need to fundraise extensively to get off the ground.
He said having the land and a building is a great start, but they will need a lot more to build a fully functioning museum.
“That leaves $10 million we need to come up with over the next number of years, as we create the site and expand the collection,” he said.
Coun. Andrew Knack said it was good to hear the museum has a plan for the future and he believes it will strive as people move into the area.
“You are going to see people who want to understand more about where the name Blatchford name came from and sort of the history behind it,” he said.
He hoped the city could be involved somehow in helping with the move, but he was unsure of what form that might take.