Air Force Museum goes ‘steampunk’ in newest traveling exhibit

“Discover Steampunk: A Fantastical Hands-On Adventure” explores historical, current and future-oriented sensibilities

In the fourth building of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, visitors will find the museum’s latest overture to the young and the young-at-heart — “Discover Steampunk.”

It’s an exhibit that blends historical, current and future-oriented sensibilities, giving visitors a glimpse of a unique visual style inspired by what in the late 19th century was considered futuristic fantasy.

The free, walk-through exhibit will be open through Dec. 10.

“Welcome to Steampunk,” Michael Brimmer, chief of the education division at the museum, told visitors Wednesday.

Though the term was coined as a literary adjective in the late 1980s, the exhibit focuses on Victorian ideals of invention and adventure. Here are homages to British science fiction authors H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley and Jules Verns, as well as salutes to inventors like George Eastman and William Singer, of camera film and sewing machine fame, respectively.

Said Brimmer: “It’s where the past, the present and the future come together. It’s an exhibit where science fiction becomes science fact. You’ll see that when you go through these exhibits. You have these visionaries, science fiction visionaries, that came up with these wild and crazy ideas.

“Then fast forward a hundred years or more, and now they’re reality,” he added.

This is the museum’s latest overture to K-12 students — and the curious of any age —about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education.

Each gallery features interactive areas that work both for groups and individuals and feature STEAM content and interactivity.

Discover Steampunk: A Fantastical Hands-On Adventure is free to all visitors and will be open during regular museum hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until Dec. 10.

Created by Imagine Exhibitions, Inc., Discover Steampunk, is made possible by support from CenterPoint Energy through a partnership with the Air Force Museum Foundation.

The museum is celebrating its centennial anniversary. The institution traces its history to a small shop on McCook Field, what was a modest flight experimentation station just minutes north of downtown Dayton, operated by what were then the U.S. Signal Corps and the Army Air Service.

Today, the museum has more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space.

The entrance to museum grounds is at gate 28B off Springfield Street in Riverside.

About the Author