Spring is an ideal time to discover or rediscover the simple pleasures of kite flying. And it is a perfect tie for introducing a new generation to the hobby. For the expert or novice, Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas for all things kite related in the upper Colorado River Valley.

This is also road trip season. If you are a fan of kiting you can can combine both with a bit of planning. Did you know that the World Kite Museum is located in Long Beach, Washington? Did you know that the museum organizes and hosts events?

In the mid 1980s local kite enthusiasts often talked of kite history and the international community of kite flyers. These conversations morphed into an idea? Why not establish a museum dedicated to the kite?

The first step in creating the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame was research and organization. What are the requirements to establish a nonprofit organization? What type of facility would be needed? What would be needed to preserve fragile historic kites? The envisioned museum would become a destination for kite enthusiasts. It would be a place where people could learn about the fascinating history of kites, and enjoy kites.

Fortuitously 1989 was the one hundredth anniversary of Washington state. As a part of the planned celebrations the state launched a series of initiatives with a focus on establishing and developing museums, and assisting organization working to preserve history. This included workshops for people looking to establish a museum.

The developing kite museum board attended several workshops. They learned how to establish a 501c3 nonprofit. They also learned about mission statements, storage techniques, managing and operating a gift shop, and the acquisition of artifacts.

In the same year the widow of David Checkley, a renowned collector of kite memorabilia, donated seven hundred rare and colorful kites from Japan, China, and Malaysia. This became a cornerstone for the museum that houses the most complete collection of Japanese kites outside of Japan.

The museums first exhibit was “The History of Kites in Washington State.” This was a week long celebration that included the 1989 Washington State International Kite Festival.

Another example of the museums commitment to education was a limited partnership with the famous Japanese kite maker Eiji Ohashi. He brought kite-making materials to Long Beach. Then with assistance from World Kite Museum, every child at Long Beach Elementary was helped to make a flyable Japanese kite.

In the years that followed the World Kite Museum continued developing an array of innovative educational programs. The Long Beach Elementary school gymnasium was used for adult workshops and to bring cultural experiences to students. Further educational initiatives were developed through a limited partnership with the Long Beach Peninsula Merchant Associations.

If you would like to combine road trips with kites, August might be an ideal time to visit the museum. Canceled in 2020, the Washington State International Kite Festival is tentatively scheduled for the third full week in August. For more information contact the museum at 360-642-4020.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America