The history of The Boeing Company and the companies with which it shares a common heritage parallels the exciting history of humankind's endeavor to fly. The men and women of The Boeing Company and the aircraft they have built -- from some of the first wood-and-cloth airplanes to today's sleekest fighters and jetliners -- have played a pivotal role in shaping the history of aerospace.
The James S. McDonnell Prologue Room in St. Louis tells this panoramic story of more than nine decades of aviation progress, from biplanes to space travel. Scale models, dioramas, paintings, and photographs document such important events as the first flight around the world in 1924, the first take-off of a jet fighter from a U.S. Navy carrier in 1946, the first aircraft to land at the South Pole in 1956, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Earth in 1962.
Touch-screen kiosks throughout the museum encourage visitors to learn more about the products of Boeing. Dozens of video clips describe the development of the venerable airplanes and spacecraft that have lead the way in the advancement of technology, changed the way we travel, defended our freedoms, and discovered new frontiers.
Separate displays depict the evolution of technology through hundreds of varying scale commercial and military airplane models, full-size missiles, and full-size and smaller scale rockets and spacecraft. Actual-size mockups of the mercury and Gemini space capsules that carried the first Americans into space dramatize the vital role our company played in the early days of America's space program. Detailed models of Skylab, the world's first orbiting laboratory, and today's orbiting lab, the International Space Station, also are on display.
Guests also may view a rare collection of fine art, including one of the largest collections of paintings by famed aviation artist R.G. Smith. His bold and dramatic work captures significant achievements in flight, space travel and world history.
Group tours are available throughout the year. Educational programs are offered to student groups in the fourth grade and above. Adult tours are also available to organized groups of 10 or more. Reservations are required for both adult and student group tours.