A Letter to our Community

Because of you—our loyal donors, members, friends, volunteers and community—The Museum of Flight survived the many challenges of 2020 and continues to inspire all generations with the wonder of flight and aerospace. It is an understatement to write that the past year has been a turbulent one. We are so very proud of how the institution and our community have weathered such a bumpy ride, in no small part because loyal donors and members such as you have been steadfast with your support throughout the flight.

After a year of hearing of the daily problems and challenges of COVID-19, it is inspiring, motivating and exciting to see what the team has accomplished. - Scott

Participants of Boeing Academy @ Home during the summer months were treated to some Astronaut yoga with educator Emily Simmons and our resident Astronaut. (THE MUSEUM OF FLIGHT)

Early in the pandemic, Museum leadership established four overarching mandates to guide decision making during the crisis. We prioritized and focused on the following commitments:

    • health and safety of those entrusted to us;
    • well-being of Museum staff and volunteers;
    • delivery of our educational mission;
    • long-term financial viability of the institution.

While the challenges mounted, we also remained steadfast in talking about and acting on that which we could do as opposed to what we could not do. We achieved successful outcomes in each of these areas, and your affirmation of these priorities has ensured your Museum of Flight will be strong and relevant for years to come.

From the moment our doors closed to the public in March of 2020, the Museum prioritized, first and foremost, the health of our staff, members, visitors, students, volunteers and vendors. Your gifts have enabled the Museum to maintain an unwavering focus on safety protocols and mitigating the spread of the virus. We took extensive measures to ensure a safe environment throughout our campus facility. Significant investments were made in filtration systems to enhance the capture of airborne particles and increase the exchange of air flow within our galleries and outside our walls. Protective barriers and signage reminded people to keep physically distanced.

Museum educator Kaitlin Dempsey, teaches a Suited for Space lesson virtually for Boeing Academy @ Home participants. (THE MUSEUM OF FLIGHT)

The Museum was able to invest in our staff because of you. While many positions were eliminated as a result of necessary budget cuts, your philanthropy allowed us to retain the majority of our talented team. Most were able to work efficiently and effectively at home, with technology and other resources quickly deployed thanks to your support. During our public closures, employees persevered through furloughs yet also benefitted from newfound time to pursue professional development opportunities and complete backlogs of projects that could be managed remotely. Collaboration thrived despite being separated physically, as we all had the opportunity to work in and learn about areas of expertise other than our own, including interdepartmental participation to contact members, transcribe oral histories and keep volunteers active and informed.

We should never take for granted learning about aviation history and how much our future in advancing and learning from history depends on places like The Museum of Flight. - Yusuf

Senior Curator Matthew Burchette talks about the Taylor Aerocar III in a Curator on the Loose episode. (TORI HUNT)

The Museum takes seriously its role to inspire and connect aerospace enthusiasts with educational resources, historical perspectives, and personal interactions with one’s favorite artifact. Throughout the closures, we launched new ways for audiences to engage with our collections, such as digital access to the archives, expanded podcasts, and virtual presentations from a wide variety of content experts. Created early in the pandemic, the Curator On The Loose video series featuring Senior Curator Matthew Burchette took viewers on in-depth tours of vintage air- and spacecraft; The Museum of Flight At Home web portal provided virtual content to explore from any room in the house; and The Digital Collection platform invited visitors from around the world to peruse the Museum’s treasure trove of photos and oral histories.

The Museum of Flight’s vision is “to be the foremost educational air and space museum in the world.” With your shared belief in that vision, we were not thrown off course by the pandemic in our pursuit of that goal. With schools closed and the timeline for re-opening unknown for most of 2020, the Boeing Academy for STEM Learning team introduced Boeing Academy @ Home leveraging years of knowledge and experience delivering impactful programming. Long-running Museum programs were adapted to online participation featuring interactive formats with a focus on maximum student interaction and engagement. Because education was no longer restricted to those who could be in person at the Museum, Boeing Academy @ Home drew youth from 26 different states and five countries!

Thank you for finding creative ways to serve the public during this Coronavirus crisis. With so many people stuck at home, you are providing an outlet for education, imagination, and learning. Thank you for thinking outside the box. - Steve and Linda

A view of the World War II Gallery above the P-51D Mustang’s new perch. (TED HUETTER)

Before 2020, Museum leadership had begun to define the principles, process and pathway towards a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and culturally responsive institution. The past year highlighted the urgency and ongoing importance of that work. It will be a never-ending journey, though the Museum is pleased with it's progress this past year despite the pandemic’s challenges. Most visibly, the Museum took bold steps through exhibits and online programs to uncover and incorporate ethnically-underrepresented figures in aerospace history. Untold Stories: World War II at 75 was opened in the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing and unveiled 17 “focal features” which share inspiring stories of individuals with diverse backgrounds who heroically impacted war efforts around the world.

When our doors closed in March, revenue from admissions and special events disappeared overnight. This income represents more than 55% of The Museum of Flight’s annual operating income. Though not enough to cover the absence of these dollars, generous contributions from you and so many in our amazing community helped us stay aloft and preserve staff positions. More than 300 loyal members graciously donated back extension months and approximately 2,500 donors invested their support—many doing so multiple times—to fill the financial void. This outstanding philanthropy gives the Museum confidence and lift to emerge from this crisis and continue our upward climb to where we belong in service to you and those who rely on us.

Donors, members, staff, volunteers, students and countless partners comprise our resilient community—one that will not only endure, but safely persevere and thrive in the days ahead. Thank you for believing in your Museum of Flight and investing in our future. We are still flying because of you!

We are still flying because of you!

Matt Hayes
CEO and President

Charles A. Lyford, IV
Chair, Board of Trustees

To read the full 2020 Annual Report and view the Donor Lists, please click the button below.

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