Two museums with a common passion

For almost 30 years, the <i>Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace</i> (MAE) and the <i>Musée Aéronautique et Spatial Safran</i> have been fostering close ties founded on a common aim: offering a wide audience the opportunity to discover the engines that forged the history of aviation. We interviewed Catherine Maunoury, MAE Director, together with Pascale Dubois, Safran Information and Communications VP.

What kind of partnership unites the two museums?

> Pascale Dubois (Safran) :
When the Safran museum was founded in 1985, the Association of Friends of the Safran Museum, comprising around 140 volunteers, mostly former employees, contacted the MAE and an agreement was reached whereby Safran takes two examples of the same engine from the MAE collection for renovation. Once refurbished, one of the engines returns to its original museum and the other is exhibited in the Safran museum. These are mainly Gnome et Rhône rotary radial engines which take four to five months to restore.

> Catherine Maunoury (MAE) : Through this partnership, which is still going on today, we benefit from the unique know-how of the members of the Association of Friends of the Safran Museum. Thanks to them, 78 piston engines have already been restored in almost twenty years. This agreement has an obvious advantage: it gives the public twice as many opportunities to discover these precious pieces of French aeronautical heritage!

Why showcase these engines today?

> C. Maunoury : These engines are of utmost importance as their appearance marks a point when the history of aviation, a symbol of French industry, truly "took off". In this respect, the design of the Musée Aéronautique et Spatial Safran, that I had the opportunity to visit in the company of Jean-Paul Herteman, Safran Chairman and CEO, is perfectly adapted to this educational mission. As I'd like to be able to offer our visitors the same experience, major work is planned over the coming years to enhance the value of our collections.

> P. Dubois : We are working in a sector with a rich history and it is important to communicate this to all of the Group's employees, as these roots constitute their heritage, as well as to a wider audience of enthusiasts. In the years from 1910 to 1920, we accompanied the pioneers of aviation. Today, we are working alongside the biggest aircraft manufacturers to help them meet ecological and economic challenges. Even after a hundred years, we are still motivated by the same desire to innovate–it's in our genes!

What major events does 2013 have in store for your respective museums?

> C. Maunoury : The museum's historic terminal building, which has just been faithfully restored to how it was in 1937, will be inaugurated on June 3. We have benefited from the support of the major stakeholders in the French aeronautical industry and especially Safran. The year's other big event is of course the Salon International de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace. All visitors to the exhibition will be able to discover all our collections free of charge.

> P. Dubois : The extension work at our museum will be completed in the Fall with the opening of a new hall dedicated to space. All year round, the museum reflects the major events hosted by the Group such as the presentation of the Safran Innovation Awards, the National Heritage Days and also the Rocketry Challenge competition or the Breitling Cup. The museum represents a true link between our past and our future.

Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace
Aéroport de Paris-Le Bourget, 93350 Le Bourget
http://www.museeairespace.fr/

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday:
April 1 through September 30, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
October 1 through March 31, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Musée aéronautique et spatial Safran
Rond-point René Ravaud - 77550 - Réau
http://www.museesafran.com/
Free admission for all: Wednesdays 9:00 a.m.–12:00 noon and 2:00–5:00 p.m., and the last Saturday of each month from 2:00–5:00 p.m.
On other days, group visits for ten people or more can be arranged–by appointment only–by the Association of Friends of the Safran Museum.