National Park Service Public Statement on Pearson Air Museum

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Date: April 11, 2014
Contact: Tracy Fortmann, (360) 816-6205

The National Park Service regrets that the mediation process utilized to resolve issues and reach a consensus where the Trust could resume operations of the Pearson Air Museum was unsuccessful. The National Park Service, the City, and the Trust worked in good faith throughout this process, but agreed that, no matter the outcome, all parties would, going forward, be supportive of each other and work together for the greater good of our community, and the American people.

After many months of mediation, the parties had reached agreement on many issues and made substantial progress. Unfortunately, even recognizing all the good work and effort of the three parties, the National Park Service recently learned from the Trust that it has concluded it will not be feasible for them to operate the air museum. We respect the decision the Trust has made, and we look forward to working in partnership with the Trust in serving the public on other projects. Because the parties signed a confidentiality agreement prior to engaging in the mediation process, both the substance and process of our mediation are confidential and the National Park Service cannot discuss the details of the discussions.

The National Park Service remains committed to protecting the nationally-significant resources associated with Pearson Air Museum. We continue to work with the community to ensure that Pearson Air Museum and the history it speaks to is here for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Pearson Air Museum is open with free admission to the public, and we invite people to come and visit Pearson and the entire Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  Information on hours and activities can be found at the national park's website:   All scheduled special events at Pearson Air Museum will continue, and if parties are interested in holding an event at Pearson Air Museum or elsewhere within Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, please visit the park's special event webpage at or call (360) 816-6241.

As a service to the public, the National Park Service requested the City of Vancouver and the Fort Vancouver National Trust's approval to place their respective statements on this issue on our website. They are as follows:

City of Vancouver: Media Statement Regarding Pearson Air Museum

Contact: Jeanette (Jan) Bader, Program & Policy Development Manager, (360) 487-8606

The National Park Service, Fort Vancouver Trust and city of Vancouver have been engaged in a mediation process to resolve issues related to the operation of Pearson Air Museum. The City and Park Service work as partners in the development and operation of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, which includes Pearson Air Museum. The City also contracts with the Fort Vancouver Trust to manage a portion of the city's property at the Reserve including Officers Row and the West Barracks.

All three organizations worked cooperatively through the mediation process for a number of months toward the goal of having the Trust resume management responsibilities for the Museum. Having reached substantial agreement on the operational and policy issues, the city was extremely disappointed to learn that the Trust has determined that it is not financially feasible for them to resume a management role at the Museum.

Through the mediation process a number of other issues relating to the Museum were agreed upon including a process for how the Pearson and Chkalov collections will be handled. The City remains committed to ensuring that aviation artifacts and collection items are appropriately managed and preserved for the community's benefit.

The National Park Service, City of Vancouver, and Fort Vancouver Trust are each issuing their own statements about the decision regarding the management of Pearson Air Museum.

Fort Vancouver National Trust: Statement by Fort Vancouver National Trust Board of Trustees Chair Steve Horenstein Regarding the Jack Murdock Aviation Center/Pearson Air Museum Complex

Contact: Steve Horenstein, Board Chair, Fort Vancouver National Trust, (360) 921-4744

Despite months of deliberation, discussions and mediation between the National Park Service and the Fort Vancouver National Trust, the Trust's Board of Trustees has determined that it cannot return to the Pearson Air Museum. We are profoundly disappointed that we have failed to reach agreement with the National Park Service.

The National Park Service terminated the operating agreement for the Pearson Air Museum in February 2013, and the Trust was compelled to move its assets and programs to Pearson Field to a hangar owned by the Trust. In September 2013, the Trust entered into mediation with the National Park Service in hope of finding a way for the Trust to return to operating the Museum. Those discussions continued until this week.

Despite our Board of Trustees' strong desire to return to the Museum, certain provisions that affect the financial viability of the Museum remain unresolved, as did some remaining operational considerations. Because of a confidentiality agreement that precludes disclosure of contract discussions, we cannot discuss the details of those provisions.

In addition, the more-than-year-long lapse in Museum operations has significantly damaged the sustainable operations plan that had been successfully implemented by the Trust over an eight-year period. Returning to the museum is not as simple as just resuming operations. Having been out of the facilities for more than a year means that we essentially would have to start from the beginning, developing new funding and establishing the revenue streams necessary to again become sustainable.

Although the Trust will not be returning to the Pearson Air Museum, it will continue to operate its educational programs and Aviation Summer Camps at the Pearson Field Education Center, as well as its outreach activities and partnerships throughout the metro area. The success of these STEM-based programs, which are steeped in aviation history, was recently recognized by the Washington Aviation Association as it presented the Center with its Northwest Spirit of Aviation Award. Further, the Trust will include the development of an expanded exhibit and education facility to serve the interests of the community and area students as part of the Trust's strategic planning process, which is just being launched.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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