Duxford’s American Air Museum closes to undergo major £1m refurbishment

The American Air Museum at IWM Duxford is closing for a year as it undergoes a major refurbishment.

The American Air Museum at IWM Duxford is closing for a year as it undergoes a major refurbishment. - Credit: Archant

IWM Duxford’s American Air Museum has closed to the public today (Monday) as it undergoes a £1million transformation to make it “impactful for the next generation of visitors”.

The ambitious redevelopment work, made possible by a £980,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, received a further boost last Friday when it was announced an extra £160,000 would be used to “re-energise” the exhibition.

It is expected that the American Air Museum will reopen in the spring of 2016.

Director-General at the Imperial War Museum, Diane Lees, said that with the events of the first half of the 20th century starting to fall out of living memory it was “vital that we offer visitors an immersive interpretive experience to help them to understand, and emotionally connect with, the objects displayed in the American Air Museum and the historical events they represent.”

She welcomed the latest grant, this time from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund.

It will be used to display objects in new ways and redevelop existing displays, IWM Duxford has said, which it hopes will help visitors see the museum objects in a new light.

“We’ll be placing a greater emphasis on the individual stories of war and conflict which show events from a range of personal perspectives,” a spokesman said.

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“A programme of research and interviews with veterans will provide material to support the new displays. The exhibition will be brought up to date with material covering the last two decades of conflict and the political context of that period.”

He added: “We’ll be helping our audiences to understand the co-operative relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, which was forged during the First World War and the Second World War and which has shaped the modern world ever since.

“The heritage presented in the American Air Museum has a relevance to everybody living in Britain, particularly people in the East of England. Our aim, in redeveloping the American Air Museum, is to inspire people to relate the objects in the museum’s collection to their own lives and to the world in which they live.”

Jenny Cousins, project leader of the American Air Museum redevelopment project, added: “The relationship between America and Britain continues to have a major impact on our lives.

“In our new challenging and engaging displays we will explore what this has meant for individual people, and how decisions and technology have changed their lives in unexpected ways.

“We will bring their stories to life and change the way that our visitors see the aircraft on display in the museum.”

The American Air Museum was built at IWM Duxford in 1996-7 to present the best collection of American military aircraft on public display outside North America. The American Air Museum tells the story of American air power and the integral relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

It also stands as a memorial to the approximately 30,000 US airmen and women who were killed while serving from Great Britain during the Second World War.