Our Collection

For over a decade museum staff and volunteers have attempted to collect and preserve every relevant artifact they could find. Among the major pieces in the museum’s collection are:

  • A Bell P-39 Airacobra that saw combat in the skies over Russia. Thousands of these planes were produced in Western New York for the war effort, a third of which were sent to Russia as a part of the Lend Lease Program.  Click here to see more about this remarkable aircraft. (Not on display)
  • A 1910 Curtiss Pusher replica, which was flown by Cole Palen, and loaned by the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.
  • The first U.S. commercially licensed helicopter – the Bell Model 47.
  • A Bell Rocket Belt – Just back from a London exhibit and made famous from the James BondTM movie, “Thunderball.”
  • A Bell Lunar Accent Engine, a test version of the engine used to blast the astronauts off the surface of the moon returning them to their Apollo Spacecraft. The engine was designed and built in Western New York.
  • The actual control panel used by a mission controller during the Apollo moon missions.
  • The Bell X-22A V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off Landing) Research Airplane, the last major aircraft to be developed in Western New York. The X-22A was built by Bell in Niagara Falls, NY for the US Navy. It is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation. (Not on display)
  • A Curtiss JN-4 (Jenny) – the premier World War I trainer aircraft for all the country’s military services. Also, the “Jenny” is famous as “the barn storming aircraft” of its era. The Museum owns this and is restoring to static museum quality. (Not on display)
  • A Cunningham-Hall GA-36 a 1930’s era revolutionary short take off and landing aircraft. (Not on display)

These are just some examples, on display and in the museum’s collection, providing evidence of the rich past, and continuing record of high technology that has been a part of the industrial landscape of Western New York. The Museum strives to maintain this evidence as a part of the collective consciousness of our area.

In addition to the exhibition site at the Buffalo Waterfront, the Museum’s main office and other collections reside in the former Bell Aerospace plant in the Town of Wheatfield, NY. Thousands of historical documents and records have been preserved, cataloged and maintained in the museum’s library. The Museum also has extensive film archives that have been digitized for easy access.