The Maine Museum needs room for more cars, planes and students

The Maine Museum needs room for more cars, planes and students

The Owls Head Transportation Museum has launched a $9.7 million capital campaign to expand the museum’s space and educational programs.

OWLS HEAD, Maine — “Quite simply, we’re running out of space.

That, says Kevin Bedford, executive director of the Owls Head Transportation Museum, is the main reason the popular museum launched a $9.7 million renovation. USD capital campaign.

The money will pay for a major expansion of the museum’s facilities and allow it to add more educational programs for local elementary students.

The museum held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to announce the public portion of the campaign. Bedford says it has pledged $4.6 million so far. USD and is cautiously confident that he will be able to pay the full amount “within two years”.

The museum says it attracts about 30,000 visitors each year, drawn by events, a large collection of vintage cars and trucks, and a collection of historic airplanes.

It showcases 20th century transportation from the Wright Brothers era and early automobiles to the sleek cars of the 1930s and the rapid development of the 1950s and 1960s.

The expansion will provide more space for the museum’s volunteers to carry out vehicle and aircraft restoration work, such as the recently completed restoration of their WWI Fokker Triplane replica. The changes will also provide more screen space.

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Bedford says expanding the technical scope of the restoration work will also allow OHTM to expand its work with local schools, providing hands-on technical and STEM classes to help young people better understand technology and invention.

“I meet people every day whose kids can’t use a screwdriver or can’t use a flat-blade screwdriver,” Bedford said.

Learning from skilled museum volunteers can help fill those gaps and help students understand how things work, he said.

“From that elementality [knowledge] right down to the operation of the gearbox, petrol or piston engine.

He says the museum has always taught adults, but began reaching out to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic when new ideas were needed to help students learn.

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Bedford said the expansion will help teach students STEM skills in invention, teamwork and experimentation — and that even failure can teach lessons.

“During the pandemic, we have found nothing but positive results, engagement and requests for more every week, working with youth in school systems and teachers in local school systems.

The fundraising work is still ongoing, but almost half of the planned amount has been collected by pledge, the museum is not waiting to start the development.

They have begun work on a restoration supplement and plan to begin an expanded restoration workshop this fall. Completing those areas first will allow the education program to expand, according to Bedford.

Other parts of the project, including exhibit space, a new HVAC system for the museum entrance, and other details, will proceed as funds allow.

The museum is open most days during the summer and will host several major events, including the Wings and Wheels Air Show this Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7, and the annual New England Car Auction, August 25-27.

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