Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Ford Island, Hawaii, USA

Harry Sherrin

07 Dec 2021
Image Credit: Claudine Van Massenhove /

About Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a public institution dedicated to sharing the stories and artefacts of the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, America’s first aviation battlefield of World War Two.

History of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum 

The idea to build an aviation museum on Ford Island in Hawaii was dreamed up by Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye in the late 1990s. He envisioned the museum as part of a wider program to renovate and rejuvenate Ford Island by selling US Navy land for use as public institutions.

Before construction could start on the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, funds had to be sourced. Set up as a non-profit, the museum had to rely on donations and fundraising events to pay for its construction – a project that ultimately cost around $75 million. 

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum was opened to the public on 7 December 2007, on the 65th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. It became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute in 2013, and the museum proudly welcomed its millionth visitor on 4 April 2013. 

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum today 

Today, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s Hangar 37 tells the story of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, featuring artefacts, aircraft, first-hand accounts and documentary footage.

But the remit of the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum goes far beyond the attack on 7 December 1941. In Hangar 79, visitors will find over 75 years of American history, tracing the evolution of military aviation from World War Two through to Vietnam and the Gulf Wars. 

As well as the two hangars, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has a number of outdoor exhibits. There are typically more than 50 aircraft on display across the site.

Getting to Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum 

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is on Ford Island, Hawaii, near the site of an active military base. It can be reached by shuttle bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. 

Don’t try to drive direct to Ford Island via the Ford Island bridge: it’s only open to military personnel, government employees and shuttle buses heading to the museum. 

Shuttle buses leave the Visitor Center every 15 minutes, between 8 am and 4 pm. 

Featured In

Pearl Harbor Monuments and Museums

Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 took the lives of 2,403 Americans and triggered America's entry into World War Two. Here are 9 commemorative monuments and museums you can visit in Hawaii.