Below is a brief review of the Antique Wireless Museum’s evolving history as a facility to collect and present communication technology. Although not initially envisioned as a public museum, the many year’s of hard work on the part of the membership, it has become a world class facility.
This all started in the mid-1930s when Bruce Kelley, a young Kodak engineer and amateur radio operator, began collecting old wireless radio apparatus, models, scientific papers and radio ephemera dating from the 1880s, some of it used by inventors like Marconi and Edison. Kelley recognized the need to preserve wireless history long before any major museum did.
Kelley and fellow ham radio amateurs and collectors formed the Antique Wireless Association in 1952 and started a small museum in a Spencerport, NY barn. In 1958 Kelley moved, and AWA opened its first “old time radio museum” in his Holcumb carriage house. The museum was moved to a location in the 180 year old Bloomfield Historical Society Academy Building in 1975. In 2013, the new Antique Wireless Museum was opened at 6925 Route 5 & 20 on the Thomas Peterson, Jr. Antique Wireless Museum and Research Campus. Below is a quick review of those stages of the evolution.
Our First Museum
It all began in a barn at Bruce Kelley’s home in Spencerport in 1952. Three men’s passion for collecting radios and electronic equipment that became the AWA. From that humble beginning the AWA has grown into an organization of nearly 1,200 members worldwide.
Our Second Museum
Our Third Museum
Over time, the Expanded Storage Annex
Now, the Fourth Generation Museum
The Thomas Peterson Jr. Antique Wireless Museum and Research Campus
Faced with a Museum and Annex bursting at the seams with a world-class collection of artifacts and ephemera, and an Academy Museum which was too small to properly display our collection and not ADA accessible, the AWA embarked on an ambitious project: to build a new world-class Museum and Research Campus in Bloomfield, New York.
With great foresight and generosity, Tom Peterson, AWA Director, purchased three buildings on nearly 2 acres of land which have become the Antique Wireless Museum and Research Campus. Two of the buildings, the Dr. Max Bodmer Media Center and the AWA Staging Building were redeveloped and placed into operation to support the development of the new Museum.
Ultimately, the Antique Wireless Museum will comprise 10,000 square feet of exhibits and auditorium. The first phase, 3,600 square feet, was opened May 4, 2013 and the Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony was held August 20, 2013.
The display area has been expanding and plans have been made to add an amateur radios “shack” and ultimately a theatre facility.
What began over 6 decades ago is evolving into the world’s premier and most important communication and entertainment technology history museum. We are sure that the three founders would be quite amazed.