People and planes: technical versus social narratives in aviation museums - NMS Research Repository
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Journal article

People and planes: technical versus social narratives in aviation museums

17 August 2018

Abstract

Redevelopment of two Second World War hangars at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian provided an opportunity to re-interpret the museum collections. This short account of the project looks at the integrated incorporation of oral history recordings. In particular, it looks at the new approach taken to the interpretation of the museum’s Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a Komet rocket fighter. This uses oral histories from the only Allied pilot to make a powered flight in a Komet, and from a Jewish slave labourer who was forced to build aircraft for Nazi Germany. This focus on oral history, along with an approach to interpretation that emphasises social history, rather than technology, has proven popular with visitors and allowed the building of audiences.

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