Kites, Wings, & Other Flying Things

Pasadena’s History of Flight through Science, Art, & Design

On view Wednesday, November 20, 2013 to Saturday, April 19, 2014

Knabenshue dirigible

Knabenshue dirigible over the Raymond Hotel. PMH Archives (A9-1d)

From the kite through the space age, Kites, Wings & Other Flying Things examined the artistry and engineering behind rapidly advancing aeronautical technologies, as well as Pasadena’s key place in the story of flight.

From gliders and dirigibles to rockets and space exploration, California was the nexus of the development of flight in the 20th century. Southern California, including the city of Pasadena, was indelibly marked by this industry. Since the early 1900s, Pasadena has enthusiastically embraced aeronautics, through eager spectators, visionary inventors, daring aviators, and savvy entrepreneurs. In this exhibit, an aviation timeline, illustrated with images from the Museum’s vast collection of photographs, explored the development of this quintessentially twentieth-century industry from Pasadena’s point of view. Related artifacts and ephemera documenting the industry were also on display.

Long before the Industrial Revolution made modern aerospace technology possible, early aspirations of flight began with the kite, an item that epitomizes the intersection of science and artistry. As weapons during war and as recreation during peacetime, they have inspired leaps of the imagination and humankind’s leap into aviation. Glen Rothstein, the local representative of the American Kitefliers Association, curated a selection of kites on loan from kite makers and collectors, including Dorine Imbach, Mikio Toki, and Tyrus Wong.