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Museum History

Museum History

The National Balloon Museum, a non-profit organization based in Indianola, Iowa, has a rich history rooted in the National Hot Air Balloon Championships, which commenced in 1970. The Balloon Federation of America (BFA) recognized the need to preserve ballooning history during these championships and, in 1973, voted to establish a museum, choosing Indianola as its home.

In 1975, the museum’s official journey began with its first exhibit during the National Balloon Championship event. Temporary exhibits continued on the Simpson College campus during the Nationals from 1975 to 1979. The museum was officially incorporated on July 28th, 1977. The museum took on a more permanent status in 1979, opening year-round in a Simpson College house and later relocating within the campus.

A pivotal moment occurred in 1988 when the current museum building, designed to resemble two inverted balloons, officially opened at its present location. The structure’s distinctive architecture, adorned in blue, yellow, and white ceramic tiles, reflects the grace of balloon flight.

The museum’s collection originally belonged to the BFA, which made the decision to establish the museum in the early 1970s to care for and display ballooning artifacts accumulated during the championships. The BFA’s involvement was crucial in the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championships held in Indianola until 1988, after which the event rotated to various locations.

Generous contributions, including $100,000 from the Eisenbergs, $100,000 from the City of Indianola, $50,000 from First Central Bank of Chariton, and $50,000 from the Laverty Foundation, among others, facilitated the construction of the museum, completed in 1986.

Since its creation, the National Balloon Museum has stood as a testament to the passion for ballooning and continues to captivate visitors with its engaging exhibits and rich history.