Many years ago, the Lawrence D. Bell Aircraft Museum was given aviation pioneer Larry Bell’s personal property from his Buffalo, N.Y., office/apartment. It consisted of awards, scale models, personal correspondence to and from U.S. Presidents, celebrities, and high ranking military officials of his era.
His property also included files full of thousands of glass plates, negatives and transparencies.
This significant collection is a chronicling from his birth in Mentone through his accomplishments while helping build The Glenn L. Martin Co., Consolidated Aircraft on through his own company, Bell Aircraft where he continued to log aviation firsts.
But, the historically significant archive needs desperate attention now.
Like many industries that used the “safety type films,” the Lawrence D. Bell Museum is in a race against the clock to create digitized backups before they are lost beyond use to what is known as “Vinegar Syndrome.” VS is when the acetate backer of the picture begins to shrink due to years of poor storage conditions and the gelatin based emulsion that makes the image does not shrink, buckling occurs, and eventually the film disintegrates in the file or when handled.
Among the photos in the file are former Bell Museum employees, foreign and domestic presidential visits; celebrity and high ranking military visits; Poncho Villas Bomber (the Martin years); once-classified developmental pictures such as the building and testing of the P39’s,P63’s first Jet fighter and X-plane projects, etc.; helicopter development with Arthur Young, test pilots, and thousands of unpublished photos.
The LDB Museum has a small “Can-Do” volunteer board of directors with a lot of community support. They take great pride in being Larry Bell’s hometown, as he had great pride originating from Mentone.
The museum is open for leisure and educational tours. Admission is by voluntary donation. No one is turned away.
There is no such thing as administrative fees at the LDB museum, donations made are used 100 percent for the cause in which we campaign.
What does your donation fund?
Your tax deductible donation will provide the remainder of the funds needed to complete this scanning project.
- Create an optimal storage environment and monitor it to prolong the stages of decay to this film.
- Alternative storage of the film that is in critical condition and needs to be quarantined from the other film.
- Purchase acid-free film holders and handling equipment.
- Purchase multiple mass storage units for redundant protection.
- Create an area inside the museum where researchers can come to search through the digital archive.
- The digital archive will also be searchable at the Bell Memorial Library .
What is the impact of my donation?
- A Historically significant archive will be saved with redundant backup copies stored off-site to insure future generations access to them.
- Internships can be created with local colleges.
- Remote research capabilities optimized. This portion of the archive will eventually be searchable on-line, by the public, colleges, and industry.
- Able to use in virtual displays- The digitized transparencies will be able to be used in multi-media programs.
- Increased interest in museum exhibits.
- Web applications on the internet.
- We will have the media to create educational mobile exhibits for Loan/Lease programs.
- Possible income from prints.