So it was an encouraging sign last week when the board of the Marietta Museum of History voted nearly unanimously to step into the breach and continue the efforts of the Aviation Museum and Discovery Center, which went defunct in recent days. The latter organization had worked throughout most of the 2000s to raise funds for its planned $15 million museum, but fell victim to both the bad economy and the fact that it focused too much of its initial efforts on its education/outreach component, rather than breaking ground on the museum.
The History Museum vote clears the way for it to acquire the assets of the aviation group, which include a Lockheed Jet Star, a C-141 and a number of fighter planes now mounted on pedestals. And that vote also should clear the way for the aviation museum to attain accreditation as a museum, making it more likely that donors will be forthcoming in the future.
History Board Chairman Brent Brown has stated that the vote in no way means that his museum plans to shift its main operations from its longtime home in the old Kennesaw House to the aviation museum site at the corner of South Cobb Drive and Old Atlanta Road. Indeed, it is vital that the History Museum retain its downtown presence, and that it be enhanced.
A key part of that would be seeing the museum obtain the lease for the entire Kennesaw House, rather than just the two top floors, as is now the case. Having the first floor would raise its profile tremendously, and by becoming more of an attraction the museum would help energize that side of Marietta Square. City Hall and the incoming Tumlin mayoral administration should throw their energy into persuading the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, which owns the building, that the History Museum is the perfect tenant for the Kennesaw House. Indeed, it would be nice to see the Tumlin administration come up with a comprehensive plan for that block along the railroad tracks, which features some of the oldest and most historic buildings in Cobb County.
As for the aviation museum purchase by the Marietta museum, that was a difficult decision, but the right one. Marietta and Cobb's development were spurred immensely by the opening of the Bell Aviation plant during World War II, and its subsequent operation by Lockheed and now Lockheed Martin. Scores of thousands of Cobb residents have labored there through the years, and their products have been mainstays of our armed forces for more than a half century. They and the men and women who built them deserve to be honored. And the aviation museum will hopefully be able to do that, and in the not-too-distant future.