SANTA MONICA—The Museum of Flying, located on the south side of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO), has received a long-term lease from the city with an annual rent of $1 for five years, with the option to renew for another five, officials indicated in a press release.
The Museum of Flying, which was originally established in 1974 as the Douglas Museum and Library, first opened in 1979. Thousands of visitors and students come to learn about Santa Monica’s aviation history every year.
“The City of Santa Monica is fully committed to doing its part to preserve and celebrate our rich aviation history,” said Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis. “We expect the Museum of Flying will serve the community for years to come and will be a center piece as the airport fully transitions to parks, open space, recreation, education and cultural uses.”
Mayor Pro Tem Davis, Museum of Flying CEO Dan Ryan, and President and Board Chairman David Price were present during a signing ceremony on August 9. The museum will continue to provide free tours for schools and allow the city of Santa Monica to use the facility four times per year for community events, in return for the $1 rent fee.
“We are thrilled to have the City as a true partner,” said Price. “The lease terms and length will assure our supporters that we have stability and a bright future in Santa Monica.”
The Museum of Flying is a significant cultural institution and a treasure of artifacts and exhibits relating to the Douglas Aircraft Company. It was founded by Donald Douglas Jr., the second president of the Douglas Aircraft Company, with a collection consisting primarily of the artifacts of Donald Wills Douglas Sr., the company’s founder. In the late 1980s, the museum was relocated from the south side to the north side of the Santa Monica Airport and renamed the Museum of Flying, with the original collection and vintage World War II fighter aircraft. The establishment closed in 2002 due to economic hardship and reopened on the south side of the airport in 2012.
With approximately 23,000-square-feet of exhibit area and nearly two dozen aircraft, the museum features a large collection of aviation art and photographs, including three murals created by notable artist Mike Machat. The museum displays three permanent “open cockpit” exhibits, including the authentic FedEx Boeing 727 cockpit.
Over the years, the museum has hosted numerous special events, including gala events honoring aviation leaders, well-known test pilots, and the original Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts, according to the museum’s website. It provides free public school tours to nearly 30,000 students and participates in the annual Santa Monica Airport Art walk event.