Aug 4, 2022 - News

Walmart heir acquires late Microsoft billionaire's wartime museum

A photo of a U.S. FG-1D Corsair propeller airplane in the air.
A 1945 U.S. Goodyear FG-1D Corsair fighter-bomber. Photo: John Dibbs/courtesy Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum

A nonprofit led by Walmart heir Steuart Walton confirmed today it has acquired a collection of antique machines curated by the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.

The Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum in Everett, Washington, contains more than 70 international artifacts, ranging from bombers to tanks, mostly from World War II.

Why it matters: The middle of the 20th Century was an era of rapid technological advancement in aircraft, vehicles and weapons. Exhibits like these hope to remind us of the sacrifices by many and inspire us to innovate, even in the face of crisis.

Details: Founded in 2004, Allen's museum remained open after his 2018 death, but closed in March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

  • Wartime History Museum, Walton's nonprofit, plans to open the museum to the public again, but hasn't set a date.

What they're saying: "I'm excited about the potential for this collection to teach folks how technology, innovation and craftsmanship shaped history, and hope it inspires future innovators and leaders of technological progress," Walton told Axios in an email.

Zoom out: News first surfaced in April that the museum had been sold to Walton, with some speculation that the collection eventually would be moved out of state. Wartime History Museum said there are no immediate relocation plans.

  • Vulcan Inc., the Allen family's holding company, did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on Thursday.

Background: Allen started collecting historic aircraft and other military artifacts in the late 1990s.

  • The museum first opened to the public at the Arlington Municipal Airport in 2004.
  • In 2008, the growing collection moved to Paine Field, where it's now housed in three hangars.
  • Unlike other historic aircraft and military collections, most of its planes, tanks and other vehicles are in working order, per the museum's website.
A German FW 190A-5 World War II era airplane flys above a forest.
A 1943 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 fighter. Photo: John Dibbs/courtesy Flying Heritage and Combat Amor Museum

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