One year after taking the controls, museum director looks back, and ahead

One year ago this month, Paul Hammond assumed the role of executive director at March Field Air Museum. In this role, Hammond is responsible for overall management and operation of the nonprofit museum. The former director of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, he made his start in the transportation museum field as a volunteer organizer, leader and trustee of the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris.

Q. What impact has working in museums had in your life?

A: Working in museums has allowed me to learn and appreciate the rich history of our region, our state, and our nation — not to mention how this history has helped shape our larger world, for good and bad. I’m far more knowledgeable about railroad history, given my many years of involvement with railroad publishing and railway museums, but I’m picking up the broad-brush narratives of military and aviation history pretty quickly. I’m in awe of the technology that we’ve created, as well as being even more in awe of those who have been willing to lay their lives on the line in times of conflict. Knowing that I’m helping enable museums to share this incredible history and heritage with guests of all ages and backgrounds is very rewarding.

Q. Over the past 12 months, you’ve been getting to know the museum. What has stood out to you so far?

A: The seemingly endless opportunities that lie ahead. The museum has a fantastic collection, with nearly 80 historic aircraft ranging from the earliest days of flight to a modern-day MQ-1 Predator (remotely piloted aircraft). It has a talented team that includes some 160 dedicated volunteers, a small but mighty paid staff that manages daily tasks and longer-term projects, and a board of directors that is engaged in the community. Also, the museum enjoys financial and in-kind support from a dedicated, growing network of individuals and businesses.

Q. What do you feel will be your biggest contribution to…

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