Artist presents proposal for aerospace museum at airport
An artist and educator from Erie sows seeds that he hopes will one day become an aviation and aerospace museum at Erie International Airport.
Ehren Knapp presented the idea to the Erie Regional Airport Authority on Wednesday.
“It’s very early, but I want to get the idea in your head and see if it’s something you would support, and if you find it appropriate, if you would donate or make land available,” said Knapp said.
Knapp is proposing the construction of an Erie Aviation and Aerospace Discovery Center on 7 acres of airport land south of the airport terminal.
Upcoming changes:Hagen History Center CEO announces retirement
The museum would display aviation and aerospace-themed artwork and artifacts, including airplanes. A main gallery would celebrate the achievements of local aviators and the machines they piloted, Knapp said.
Knapp painted the Northwestern Pennsylvania Airmen Wall of Fame mural in the baggage claim area of Erie International Airport.
The mural was advertised in 2019 and was restored last year, at least for a while. A planned reconfiguration of the baggage area may at some point necessitate its removal.
2020:Discussions over Erie airport mural are temporarily on hold
The proposed museum would celebrate those same Wall of Fame aviators, including WWII military hero Phil Cochran and Harborcreek Township native Paul Weitz, said Knapp, and would correspond to Erie’s rebirth of the manufacturing center to technology center and tourist destination.
Following:Here’s where you can find historic Pennsylvania markers throughout Erie County.
“Erie is becoming a tourist town. What I am proposing would add tourists who come,” Knapp said.
The museum would be an economic engine for the region, providing jobs and clients for local businesses. It could also help attract new aerospace companies, he said.
“It could create a culture of innovation and education and even attract aerospace manufacturing,” Knapp said.
The first step in establishing the museum would be to organize a board of trustees to review funding, location, collections and other issues, Knapp said.
The scoop:Waterford attraction features ice cream, exotic taxidermy and the Old West theme
Airport executive director Derek Martin said he would study regulations governing the use of airport properties to determine if a museum could be located on the airport grounds.
Authority member Pat Cappabianca said he would work to change regulations if necessary to accommodate a museum.
“I don’t want to hear it can’t be done,” Cappabianca said. “It is very important and it must be done.”
Other members of the authority have also expressed interest in the proposed museum.
“There are so many people we should be honoring, and something like that would be great,” said Greg Hayes. “This is something that really should be looked at.”
Aviation museums such as the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center in Horseheads, New York, near Elmira, are common at and near airports, Hayes said.
Authority Chairman Andrea Zdaniewski encouraged Knapp to keep in touch with the board and thanked him for “planting the seed” with his proposal.
Another museum proposal:Warships Floating Museum project is part of Representative Mike Kelly’s trust fund requests