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New exhibit features treasures from Misawa

In the 85 years since Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon made their historic non-stop, trans-Pacific flight in their airplane, Miss Veedol, from Misawa, Japan, to East Wenatchee, the world has changed a great deal. Yet the bond between the two cities has grown. Many symbols of that friendship will be on display at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center beginning Friday, October 7th.

beacon-of-friendshipThe official Sister City designation between the cities began in 1981, but the relationship started before that first flight.  The aviators were well cared for in the days before their departure by the Misawa residents, who fed and housed them, going so far as to learn to make fried chicken so that they would feel at home. Pangborn and Herndon went out of their way to praise the hospitality of their hosts upon their return.  That same sentiment is often expressed today as delegates from both cities visit each other every year.

The museum is filling the gallery with the gifts and materials brought back throughout the years of delegation exchange, as well as a display featuring some of Japan’s iconic culture.  Many of the artifacts on display are on loan from the collection of David and Judy Kelts. The Kelts spent many years teaching English on a military base in Misawa, Japan.

“The exhibit features an activity room inspired by traditional Japanese interior design,” Museum Curator of Exhibits Kasey Koski explained.

Koski has been working meticulously to portray the history of our sister city relationship.  Among the highlights are an interpretation of a Japanese interior, a rock garden, kimonos, and a timeline illustrating the sister city relationship. Notably, there is a series of woodblock prints created in 1847 illustrating the biographies of the 47 Ronin.  Visitors are also welcome to view the 2010 PBS documentary “Upside-Down Pangborn: First Across the Pacific” in the gallery. This 58-minute film tells the story of the event that launched the friendship that shrinks the great geographic distance between the two countries.

Museum Curator of Collections Melanie Wachholder explained further. “Sharing the history of our sister city provides a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Japan, especially for those who might not get a chance to visit.”

In addition to the exhibit, two very special educational programs are planned:

  • A Calligraphy Workshop will be taught by Artist Junko Bailey. The workshop is geared towards families and will take place on October 22nd from 10 a.m. to noon in the performance area. All materials will be provided.
  • Jake Lodato will bring Clyde Pangborn to life November 4th at 7 p.m. in the performance area. Lodato will tell Pangborn’s story and answer questions in this fascinating performance.

For more information, call the museum at 509-888-6240 or go to our website at

Friday, October 7th is the first Friday of the month, which means admission to the museum is free all day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  The museum will host a special reception that is open to the public from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to showcase the new exhibit.  Beacon of Friendship runs through Saturday, February 11, 2017.

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