Ode to Cobb County’s aviation history unveiled as art exhibit in Kennesaw

A new art exhibit poised to “demystify the science of flight” recently landed near the Cobb County International Airport in Kennesaw.

The “Mechanics in Motion” exhibit debuted May 13 at Aviation Park. It is the first of seven educational exhibits planned for the park.

The series of exhibits is part of a public arts program designed to teach school-aged children the history and science of flight. A refurbished single-engine plane, a 1964 Beechcraft, is a centerpiece of the park and project.

“With the addition of these exhibits, our community of all ages can now learn about the science of flight, the history of aviation both nationally and in Cobb County, and all of the exciting careers that are in the aviation field,” said Jennifer Hogan, director of the Town Center Community Alliance.

“Mechanics in Motion” is byproduct of a collaboration between the Town Center Community Alliance and Kennesaw State University’s Department of Museums, Archives and Rare Books. The Alliance oversaw installation of the exhibit, which features eight panels that surround the Beechcraft display.

KSU’s museum and archives curators did research and designed the informational panels, which teach the elements of flight and aircraft design. Organizers envision the public park as a regional field trip destination for kindergarteners through 12th grade students.

The project is designed to promote student interest in the field of science and the related fields of technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It offers K-12 students and educators, as well as community members, an opportunity to engage S.T.E.M., physical education and even art, both onsite and off through interactive prompts and online activity modules.” said James Newberry, one of the university’s special projects curators, in a statement.

The Alliance began working with KSU’s museums and archives team in 2018. The university designed an overall “suite” of installations and began curating the displays 10 months ago. It took about six weeks to fabricate the panels, which were installed last Thursday.

Hogan and her team will install the remaining exhibits in two phases. “Mechanics in Motion” is among those in the first phase. Three future exhibits dubbed “Lessons in Liftoff,” “What happens Up There” and “Wheels to Wings” are also included in the first phase. They’re expected to arrive in 2022.

Alliance hopes to raise $300,000 for the first four exhibits. The organization has already collected over $151,000 in donations from local businesses and community partners, according to Hogan.

“There’s a common thread to all of these (exhibits) that are all either flight or aviation or the history of aviation, especially looking at Cobb County and how Cobb County fits into that national history,” Hogan said.

She pointed to the Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta as examples of Cobb County’s flight history. Lockheed was spawned from the bones of the government-owned Bell Bomber plant, which manufactured aircraft during World War II.

Aviation Park was a $2.7-million venture that opened in November 2017. The Alliance and the Town Center community improvement district raised funds for the park and turned it over to Cobb County after construction was complete.

The county-owned flight-themed park, at the corner of Barrett Lakes and Cobb Place boulevards, features a playground, covered pavilion and bike sharing docks. It’s surrounded by Noonday Creek Trail and gives visitors an up-close vantage point to watch hundreds of planes land and take flight each day. The 3-acre public park sits adjacent to McCollum Field, just a few hundred yards east of the municipal airport’s runway.

“I think now as we come out of this pandemic and out of shutdowns and school closures, we know now more than ever before how important our outdoor spaces are in our communities,” Hogan said. “And how we all need these unique places like Aviation Park to recreate, gather and learn and play.”