Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.


On Miniature Wings: Model Aircraft from the National Air and Space Museum

From the National Air and Space Museum's collection of nearly 3,000 model aircraft, 25 superlative examples have been selected to celebrate the exciting role aircraft modeling has played in aviation history over the past 100 years. On Miniature Wings: Model Aircraft of the National Air and Space Museum shows how scaled model aircraft were put to a wide range of uses: assisting aerodynamic experiments; supporting wartime aircraft recognition training programs; documenting feats of aviation engineering; advertising the services of the airline industry; and providing an unlimited realm for the hobbyist.

Each section of the exhibition related how modeling techniques and materials evolved to meet diverse challenges. Detailed models commissioned for museum collections required extensive research and perfect craftmanship while wind tunnel models were working models and had to be of sturdy construction. Models used in airline advertisements projected a sleek modern image, often using the most up-to-date synthetic materials. The section on recreational modeling, which surveys both flying and non-flying models produced by generations of dedicated enthusiasts, ends with a salute to this pastime: a 1999 reproduction of the Good brothers' "Guff," a radio-controlled model originally created in 1937. The reproduction was made by the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Exhibits Central exclusively for On Miniature Wings.

A fully illustrated companion book written by exhibition curator Thomas Dietz of the National Air and Space Museum accompanied the exhibition.

SITES collaborated with the Academy of Model Aeronautics—a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote development of model aviation as a recognized sport and recreation activity—to involve its local clubs in educational programming at venues on the national tour of On Miniature Wings. Each museum received a modest stipend to offset the cost of family-oriented programming provided through the AMA. Presentations included discussions on the principles of flight, model-building workshops, and film screenings.

On Miniature Wings was made possible, in part, through the generous support of Tamiya America, Inc., the Smithsonian Institution Educational Outreach Fund, The Hearst Foundation, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and the Radio Control Hobby Trade Association.

This Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibition toured from 1999-2002.




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