|Established||1991 (as the Evergreen Museum)|
|Location||McMinnville, Oregon, United States|
The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is an aviation museum which displays a number of military and civilian aircraft and spacecraft, most notably, the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose. The museum is located in McMinnville, Oregon, across the street from the former headquarters of Evergreen International Aviation. Oregon Route 18 separates the museum from the company operations and McMinnville Municipal Airport (KMMV). An IMAX theater opened in 2007, and a second exhibit hall focusing on the Titan II ICBM and space technology opened in 2008.
First envisioned by Capt. Michael King Smith, son of Evergreen International Aviation founder Delford Smith, the museum began with a small collection of vintage aircraft in a hangar at headquarters and was called the Evergreen Museum. In March 1990, The Walt Disney Company, which owned the lease for the Queen Mary attraction where the Spruce Goose was located, announced that it was closing the Spruce Goose exhibit in Long Beach, California. The Aeroclub of Southern California was notified and they immediately began the search for a new home for the Spruce Goose. In 1992, the Evergreen Museum won the bid with a proposal to build a museum around the aircraft and feature it as a central exhibit.
The disassembly of the aircraft began in August 1992. The parts were sent by ship up the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River, and Willamette River to Dayton where it was transferred to trucks and driven to Evergreen International Aviation. It arrived in February 1993.
For the next eight years, the plane went through detailed restoration. Volunteers removed all the paint, replaced worn parts, and repainted the entire aircraft, among many other tasks.
In September 2000, the main aircraft assemblies were complete. The fuselage, wings, and tail were transported across the highway and into the new museum building, still under construction. Over the next year, crews assembled the wings and tail to the fuselage. These were completed in time for the museum's opening on June 6, 2001. The control surfaces (flaps, ailerons, rudder, and elevators) were assembled later. The last piece was put into place on December 7, 2001.
The name of the museum has evolved. Initially known as the Evergreen Museum, it changed in 1994 to the Evergreen AirVenture Museum. In 1997, the facility was renamed the Captain Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational Center in memory of Captain Smith, who died in an automobile accident in March 1995.
In September 2006, work began on the space museum building, a twin to the aviation museum. It was completed in May 2008 and had its grand opening on June 6, 2008, exactly seven years after the aviation museum opened. In 2009, the museum became an affiliate in the Smithsonian Affiliations program.
The museum's many volunteers include former aviators who flew the planes on display. Their detailed descriptions and real-life commentary help bring the planes and their days of flight back to life. The museum also offers a number of film presentations on the development and use of the aircraft, along with hands-on displays demonstrating various principles of avionics.
An F-15 Eagle is displayed on a pedestal in front of the EIA headquarters across the highway from the museum. A bronze statue stands by on the pathway between the aviation and space museum. Both are marked in Smith's memory.
As of June 2008, two exhibit centers were open to the public: The primary structure is the aviation center with the Spruce Goose as centerpiece. The space flight center holds a Titan II missile as its centerpiece, along with the SR-71 Blackbird. The Titan II sits upright in a specially constructed display extending two stories below the floor, silo fashion. The exhibit includes a re-created missile control room furnished with furniture and equipment donated from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Visitors can operate flight simulators for landing the space shuttle as well as for docking a Gemini capsule and performing a moon landing of the Lunar Excursion Module.
A smaller building has a seven-story IMAX theater. A radio control air flight field is located behind the aviation center, near a group of Soviet-built armored vehicles, including two T-34/85s, a T-55 and two armored personnel carriers.
In early 2016, Michael King Smith Foundation officials announced they were filing for bankruptcy. According to reports, the campus was acquired by The Falls Event Center, a company owned by Steve Down, for $10.9 million in July 2016.
Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark opened June 6, 2011. The 71,350-square-foot (6,629 m2) waterpark, Oregon's largest, features 10 slides and a 91,703-gallon wave pool with the intent of tying into the educational focus of the Evergreen Museum Campus with its "Life Needs Water" interactive display in the H2O Children's Science Center. The four big slides begin inside a retired Boeing 747-100 that sits atop the roof, 62 feet (19 m) above the splash landing.
Future plans for Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum include an 84-room hotel with restaurant.
Also on display are many different aircraft engines.
The exhibit also includes many helicopters, reflecting Evergreen Aviation's original helicopter fleet.