1940 Air Terminal Museum

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum is located at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport, Texas, United States. The original art deco building, which was the first purpose-built terminal in Houston for passenger flights, houses collections. The Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society, a tax-exempt 501(c), Texas organization, currently manages the museum. It houses several collections that focus on Houston's civil aviation heritage.

The museum is located in the Houston Municipal Airport Terminal building. It is a modern, sleek airport terminal that was built in 1940 with funds from the Public Works Administration (PWA). It is one of the few remaining examples of 1940s art deco airport architecture. The terminal was built to serve Houston in the 1940s, when passengers were dressed up in their finest and traveled on roaring prop liners like Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-3. The terminal was designed by Joseph Finger, who also designed Houston's City Hall. It was built to accommodate Houston's growing role in air commerce in the 1930s. The terminal was Houston's only commercial airport terminal until 1954. It was then used by several tenants until 1978. Hobby Airport's manager James Delong proposed demolishing the 1940 terminal to make more ramp space. However, the demolition was blocked by enthusiasts. The terminal remained unoccupied for almost 20 years.

The Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society is responsible for the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. The Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society, a Texan non profit corporation, was established to preserve, promote and research the aeronautical heritage in Houston and southeast Texas. A group of aviation, history and architecture enthusiasts founded the society in 1998. The society is open to people from all walks of life, including retired and current students, architects, attorneys, educators, engineers, community leaders, and commercial pilots.

The Internal Revenue Service has designated Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society as a 501(c),(3) tax-exempt entity. The society is funded by private and public grants, corporate and individual contributions, and net proceeds from revenue-generating endeavors like museum memberships or gift shop sales.

HAHS received a license in 2008 to Hobby Airport's oldest hangar, a 1929 Great Silver Fleet Fleet Maintenance Hangar. This hangar will be used by the organization to display larger exhibits from its collection, including two simulators and HAHS's aircraft collection. These include a 1943 Lockheed Lodestar executive plane and an S-58 Sikorsky Helicopter, which was designed for civilian heavy lifting.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum is funded by grants from a variety of private and public foundations as well as individual donors. The museum also has a Members' Program that allows members to have special access to certain functions. Private functions are also possible at the museum and its buildings.

The remainder of the building had asbestos removal completed in May 2008, and atrium and mezzanine reconstruction completed in February 2009. When funds allow, the entire lower floor will be restored in its original condition. The museum will occupy the entire terminal building's first floor and then start renovations on the upper floors.

The 1940 Air Terminal Museum was designated a Historic Aerospace Site by the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. The AIAA's 35th site for aerospace is the 1940 Air Terminal. It is a rare example in Art Deco architecture. The Good Brick Award was presented to the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society in February 2010 for its excellence in preservation of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance gives each year Good Brick Awards. The terminal was named by the Houston Press as the "Best Piece in Aviation History" in 2008.

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