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Museum to host 'not-so-gala' fund-raiser

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The National Museum of Commercial Aviation in Forest Park will host its first-ever fund-raising gala this Saturday.

The event, coined the "Not-So-Gala Gala and Silent Auction," will generate money for the museum, and celebrate its transition to a new, larger interim location, museum boosters said.

The gala will take place at 5442 Frontage Road in Forest Park, in a 16,000-square-foot space between Suite 102 (the museum's current address) and Suite 110, where the museum will relocate on Sunday morning. After the gala, the museum will be closed to the public until July 1.

Grant Wainscott, executive director of the museum, said the gala will focus on being fun, rather than fancy.

"We don't think it's about how fancy of an event you put on," Wainscott said. "The idea is to, one, raise money, two, share what we have accomplished at the museum, and three, to have a good time. Rather than going to a hotel or a convention center, we wanted to keep people on site to give them that much more experience with the museum."

According to Wainscott, visitors to the gala will be able to try their hand at a realistic flight simulator, tour an exhibit of more than 60 pieces of aviation-inspired artwork, admire vintage flight attendant uniforms from the past several decades, and view a glider aircraft on display. A silent auction taking place throughout the event will feature unique and rare airline memorabilia, including a galley cart, a set of Eastern Air Lines L-1011 first-class seats, airline china from the 1940s and '50s, a remote-control airplane, original artwork, airplane models and aviation books, and vacation packages.

The museum's new interim location on Frontage Road will increase the museum's square footage from 3,200 square feet to 6,000 square feet, according to Wainscott. The new space will include a 250-square-foot children's activity center, a child-friendly flight simulator, an aviation-inspired art gallery with quarterly exhibits, a reading corner, and a craft center where children can learn about the mechanics of flight.

Chuck Maire, a captain with Northwest Airlines who serves as chairman of the museum's board of directors, said he hopes the gala will get the public excited about what the museum has to offer in the future.

"We're doing very well for a new museum with the short time we have been around," Maire said. "Our goal is to become a true museum. For us it's [the gala] just to expose everybody here to what we are trying to accomplish. We want to make this a fun event that people will look forward to every year."

Tickets are $65 each, with corporate sponsorship tables beginning at $1,000. Tickets are still available, but space is limited. To RSVP and purchase tickets, call (770) 364-8558 or visit www.nationalaviationmusuem.com.