While students fled from campus for summer vacation, a new McMinnville attraction drew in visitors from all over the country, sending its guests to infinity and beyond.
No, Disney did not open a new park in the heart of Yamhill County. However, the highly acclaimed Evergreen Aviation Museum did open its new space museum June 6.
The museum is an awe-inspiring, 120,000 square- foot twin of the Aviation Museum and houses several hundred artifacts that made history in the realm of space exploration.
Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum Laura Graham said the museum was the best way to showcase and fuel progress in space exploration.
“There is not a museum in Oregon, or the Northwest, that shows the past, present and future [like this museum],” she said.
Museum visitors begin a journey through time and through the minds of those who made space exploration possible when they enter the museum.
With tributes not only to America’s space pursuit but also those of Russia and Germany, the museum does not forgo the smallest detail in a history that has shaped the world.
The brightly painted walls are broken into different eras of space history accompanied by timelines, important space facts, video monitors and quotes.
Visitors can witness the evolution of man’s pursuit of understanding space from artifacts as small as cans of scrambled eggs and banana pudding in a tube to the huge Titan II SLV Missile, so large it had to be set in a hole in the museum floor. The museum also boasts replicas of the Apollo Command Module and the Lunar Rover.
Many of the artifacts are on loan from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and will remain in McMinnville indefinitely, Graham said.
Space enthusiasts can also try their hands in various interactive exhibits, including a simulation of attempting to dock a shuttle with another spaceship and an interactive missile launch as part of the Titan II
missile exhibit. What attracts visitors to both the air and space museums is not rocket science.
“The history of air and space [brings people in],” docent Allen Herkamp said. “And, of course, the Spruce Goose.”
Herkamp said the Spruce Goose, the largest airplane ever constructed, is a globally recognized artifact, which helps put the museum on the map.
The museum may also be eligible to house the space shuttle that is scheduled to retire in 2010.
“Evergreen Space Museum was actually designed to house the space shuttle,” Herkamp said.
Graham said the building was constructed with flooring and size in mind and was approved to house the space shuttle.
“There would be no better home for it,” she said.
The museum has something for everyone, even those whose knowledge of outer space is limited to the movie “Apollo 13.”
“[Evergreen] is a world-class facility,” Graham said. “We have the fastest aircraft, the largest aircraft and the Titan II Missile.”
There are also various restaurants, a free wine tasting bar and gift shops.
Open from 9-5 p.m., the admission price for the museum is $13. Free guided tours are also available at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.