|When historic Mitchel
Air Field closed in 1960, Nassau County made plans to transform it into
a Long Island center of education, recreation and commerce. Hofstra University
built its north campus here The County opened Nassau Community College
and built Mitchel Park And soon a complex of commercial buildings appeared.
who had long dreamed of creating an aviation museum targeted the Mitchel
Field site Others including County Executive A Holly Patterson proposed
building a civic center on the land In 1966 County Executive Eugene H.
Nickerson urged the creation of the John F. Kennedy Educational Civic and
Cultural Center In 1969 he met with museum staff and supporters to discuss
an aviation museum.
In 1970 County
Executive Ralph G. Caso sought approval for a Bicentennial Center, featuring
Long Island's aerospace heritage. When the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
hosted a large air show in 1976, public interest in an aerospace museum
really took off.
By 1979, County
Executive Francis T. Purcell had designated funds to restore the Mitchel
Field hangars and create an aviation museum. Museum curators and more than
150 volunteers began a 20 year worldwide search to collect and restore
historic flying machines that were either built on Long Island or contributed
to its aviation legacy. In 1994, a new Museums at Mitchel Planning Group
began preparations for the opening of the Cradle of Aviation and other
attractions on museum row.
Thomas S. Gulotta, former Board Supervisors and the County Legislature
authorized funds to build the Cradle of Aviation as the first phase of
Museums at Mitchel. The complex represents a County capital investment
of $40,100,000. Contributed collections and exhibits by individuals, organizations
and corporations including more than 650,000 hours of volunteer restoration
efforts constitute another $45 - 50 million of donations.
As of now, along
with the Long Island Children's Museum, the Cradle of Aviation is the first
phase of "Museums at Mitchel" an exciting "Museum Row" destined to become
Long Island's premier year round educational, cultural and recreational
complex, Its mission is to engage all ages in an exploration of Long Island's
heritage and technologies, and to inspire future generations with the "Spirit
through a spectacular four-story glass atrium, the Reckson Center. In the
atrium you will find aircraft of all types suspended overhead, plus visitor
services, the Leroy R. and Rose W. Grumman Dome Theater; the Red
Planet Cafe‚ and the Sky Walk entrance to the Donald Everett Axinn Air
and Space Museum Hall. The museum is home to 70 air and space craft displayed
in two converted Mitchel Field hangars that have been designated America's
The 130,000 square
foot Cradle of Aviation is operated by Museums at Mitchel, a non-profit
educational corporation, in partnership with the County of Nassau. We invite
you to enjoy many future visits.