First things first, Happy New year to everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holidays with friends and family and that this year brings you nothing but good times. Work is progressing on our update of Hangar One here at the Museum, as we continue to transition it to focus solely on the Vietnam War. The first phase of this move involves an exhibit we have tentatively titled The Shadow War and centers on Air Force Special Operations during the war. The exhibit will include aircraft, vehicles, artifacts, mannequins and personal stories that are so important to help us all connect with history.
The process of designing, researching and building an exhibit is a lengthy one. Here at the Museum of Aviation, each of these elements of producing an exhibit is handled by a separate person or section of our staff. Michael Pierce designs our exhibits, the collections staff researches them and the restoration and collections staff builds and installs them. The entire process is overseen by the exhibits and collections committees. This provides peer feedback and provides more accountability to the entire process, especially the design and research phases.
Just before the holidays the collections staff was able to begin placing mannequins into the exhibit area. The mannequins are outfitted with period specific reproduction uniforms that we try to give some authentic wear and tear to before displaying. Whenever possible the scenes and poses the mannequins are in are based on real photographs.
Dressing the mannequins often involves padding their bodies to better fill out the uniforms and give them a more accurate look. One technique we use to do this is by placing a pair of women’s tights upside down on the mannequin, with the leg portion of the tights covering the arms and a hole cut in the center for the head and neck to pass through. When placed this way the body of the tights, the portion that would normally cover the lower abdomen, covers the upper torso of the mannequin and is used to hold padding in place to fill this area, as well as the arms.
The Shadow War will have 7 vehicles, including the UH-1 and OV-10, and approximately 15 mannequins in scenes around them. The exhibit will also include interactive elements, aircraft information signs and artifacts. Research for this signage, the proper display of mannequins and historically accurate dioramas is ongoing. In mean time, make sure to check out Hangar One the next time you are at the Museum of Aviation. The Shadow War is beginning to take shape.