ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The Balloon Museum features a number of special exhibitions each year, and visitors can learn much by viewing these fascinating displays. But, wouldn’t it be even more interesting to hear the stories behind the exhibitions from the person who created them?

As part of a series of new programs celebrating the Museum’s 5-year anniversary, themed “Five Years & Rising,” beginning Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:30 am the Museum launches the new “Curator’s Coffee & Gallery Tours.” The program will provide an opportunity to learn from the Curator of Collections, Marilee Schmit Nason. An informal “coffee talk” will be followed by an in-depth tour of displays that will leave visitors with a new understanding of what goes into presenting these very special exhibitions.

The Museum’s newest exhibition, “Cluster Balloons: From Lawn Chairs to Cosmic Rays,” will be the focus of this initial coffee and tour on January 22. Participants will learn about both the whimsical and serious ways clusters of balloons are used for adventure and scientific learning.

On Saturday, March 26 the focus will be on “Children of War, Voices for Peace,” an exhibition that features a little-known footnote in the history of World War II. Japanese schoolchildren were recruited to help create “Fugos”—giant balloons that were armed with bombs and launched across the Pacific. The only enemy-caused deaths on the North American continent in World War II occurred from the detonation of one of these bombs. The exhibition features the story of one Japanese schoolgirl who later learned that her contribution to her country’s safety was an instrument of death, and of her subsequent efforts to promote peace.

“Sky Sailing!” will be the featured exhibition on Thursday, May 5, as the group views the giant paraglider, and hang glider, and sailplane suspended from the gallery ceiling. The group will also learn more about the many ways both people and animals travel on the wind.

On Saturday, June 11, the series continues with a tour of the exhibition “Art of the Airship.” This gallery tour will focus on these giants of the air, how these behemoths are constructed, the enormous hangers in which they are housed, and a historic and fascinating view of the “Golden Age” of the aerial luxury liners.

Curator’s Coffees are included with paid admission, and all ages are welcome. The Coffees will be an added membership benefit to Balloon Museum Foundation members whose admission will be complimentary. To become a Balloon Museum Foundation member, fill out the on-line form at or call 505-880-0500.

The Balloon Museum is located at 9201 Balloon Museum Drive NE just south of Balloon Fiesta Park (North of Alameda) and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm year-round (closed Mondays and City Holidays that fall on Mondays). Admission is $4.00 for adults ($3.00 for NM residents), $2.00 for seniors 65+, $1.00 for children ages 4-12, and children 3 and under FREE. Admission is free each Sunday from 9 am – 1 pm, and all day on the first Friday of every month. Balloon Museum Foundation members, ICOM, AAM, and NMAM members are FREE. For more information, call 505-768-6020, visit, or call 311. For accessibility, call Relay NM or 711.