The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum opens a new exhibit entitled Art at War, featuring 19 original air squadron insignias or “nose art” from the museum collections this month (June).
This art was never meant to survive long-term as squadron insignia was often roughly-painted art on the fuselage canvas. These images of pelicans, cartoon characters, dragons, and more came to be far more than just identification painted on a plane. These pieces united crewmembers, and even today, they represent the emotions of war, and the lives of the pilots and crews.
The art personalizes an often far-away place or event, providing a depth to the story that would otherwise be lost. As we look at the brush strokes, we begin to ask questions like: Who painted it? When? What was their life like? What happened to the airplane and its crew? Were they scared? We are transported to an airfield in France, or to the deck of a heaving ship, and can imagine the artist at work. Though we may never know their names, we remember their courage and sacrifices for their countries and for each other. Art at War opens June 12.
Glenn Curtiss–born and bred in Hammondsport–was arguably one of the most influential early motorcycle and aviation pioneers in America. His inventions are still in use today–the V twin engine, the twist throttle, and the aileron (to name only a few) securely place him in the forefront of aviation and early engine design. His was the first announced public flight. He set countless world records both on land and in the air. Curtiss taught aspiring pilots from around the globe and trained the first women pilots.
The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, a WGACC Chamber member located in Hammondsport, is a must-see for aviation aficionados: it showcases the scope and impact Curtiss had in shaping the development of flight and is open 7 days a week.