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Former TWA employees and their families donated many personal items, including photos, letters and even an autograph given to a flight attendant by passenger Kirk Douglas.
Former TWA employees and their families donated many personal items, including photos, letters — even  an autograph given to a flight attendant by passenger Kirk Douglas.

Museum Exhibits

The New-York Historical Society will curate exhibitions celebrating TWA's history.

A flight attendant’s log detailing five years of airborne adventures. Vintage furniture from the TWA headquarters. In-flight amenities — gilded playing cards, silver serving ware — from a more elegant era. These are just some of the items to be showcased at the TWA Hotel, opening on May 15, 2019. The New-York Historical Society — founded in 1804 as New York’s first museum — will curate the exhibitions.

Located within the former TWA terminal — a historic landmark designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962 — the exhibits will allow visitors to experience the Jet Age through authentic artifacts, interactive displays and personal narratives.

 TWA Museum Amenities
Graphic matchbooks, gilded playing cards, custom tableware and a martini-in-a-bottle represent just a few of TWA’s in-flight offerings.

Over the last two years, MCR/MORSE Development — the nation’s sixth-largest hotel owner-operator — has carefully restored Saarinen’s masterpiece, dark since 2001. (Two new buildings behind the terminal house the hotel’s 512 guestrooms.) During that time, more than 2,000 artifacts have been accessioned for exhibition, most of them donated by former TWA employees and their families.

 TWA Museum Kids
Tin toys, a magic board along with official junior hostess and pilot pins, provided entertainment for kids.

MCR/MORSE hired an archivist to catalog each item and partnered with the New-York Historical Society to develop the exhibitions. The team’s research has taken them from Kansas City — home of the TWA Museum — to Yale University’s Saarinen archives to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which donated original blueprints of the TWA terminal.

 TWA Museum Posters
David Klein’s travel posters for TWA in the 1950s and 60s epitomized the Jet Age.

Evolving exhibitions will initially focus on two major themes: TWA’s history — including Howard Hughes’ tenure as owner — and Saarinen’s development of the terminal at JFK. Visitors can explore the hotel’s collection of 440 TWA uniform pieces, 43 TWA travel posters by David Klein, vintage furniture and large-scale TWA artifacts (a luggage tug!). Future exhibits will delve into the dawn of the Jet Age in NYC and the midcentury modern design movement.

 New-York Historical Society Museum & Library Logo

The terminal is the perfect place for visitors to discover more about aviation history, says Mike Thornton, a curator for the New-York Historical Society who is working on the project. “The Saarinen terminal is a monument to the optimism and vision of the Jet Age,” he says. “These exhibitions invite people into the glamour and fun that Saarinen and TWA worked so hard to create and foster.”

Collection by the Numbers

2,010
Total artifacts accessioned
440
Uniform pieces (pilot’s hats, serving smocks and more)
264
Dining service items from chopsticks to gravy boats
120
In-flight amenities
57
Complete uniforms from the 1940s to the 1990s
43
David Klein travel posters
22
In-flight menus
18
Children's activities
7
Plane models and toys

Get a Glimpse of the Guestrooms

TWA Hotel’s 512 midcentury modern guestrooms are ultra-quiet.

Check Out the Rooms

Book an Event for 2019 and Beyond

TWA Hotel’s 50,000 square feet of event space holds up to 1,600 people.

See the Space

Visit Our TWA Lounge

See all the way to JFK from One World Trade Center.

Look Around