Monday, July 14, 2014

The Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop


Last week my family and I visited the Dayton Aviation Heritage Park, an urban enclave of restored turn-of-the-century houses and shops near downtown Dayton, Ohio. It was here in the bicycle shop of the Wright brothers (Wilbur and Orville) that modern fixed-wing aviation was born. Unfortunately the shop itself was closed for lunch but we got a good look from the outside. The visitors center and museum was also well worth a visit, honoring not only the Wright brothers but the African American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. 

Apparently the Wright brothers ran a print shop before turning to bicycles and gliders, so part of the museum is done up to look like a print shop with a general store on the ground floor. In a typical Parks-service anxiety to please as many people as possible, they had museums-within-museums devoted to the poet Dunbar and parachutes. We evaded the rangers offer of a 30-minute interpretive film--why does every historical museum on the planet have one? If anyone in charge of a museum or historical site reads this, for God's sake upload your film to youtube and perhaps embed links to it in the physical exhibit space-- and shell out for a wireless router, so people can watch the relevant parts as they walk around or bookmark them for later.