The Drachen Collection: A Legacy for Generations to Come

Authors: 
Scott Skinner
Article type: 
Discourse

For almost three years, the Drachen Foundation Board has explored possibilities of selling the extensive Drachen collection in order to ensure its long term existence as well as to finance the future of the Drachen Foundation website. Our priority was to keep the collection in as few “pieces” as possible – the logistics of selling individual kites and objects would make a large project huge. We tried marketing the traditional Eastern kites (mainly paper and bamboo), the contemporary Western kites (ripstop and fiberglass), and finally the Cody collection of documents, glass plates, and photographs. The Board entertained possibilities to place the collections, including auctioning the Cody material at New York’s Bonhams auction house. None of these options materialized, but another exciting one came to us from an unlikely corner.

Introduced to us by New Zealand’s Peter Lynn, Cho Byong Ook from Korea began a dialogue on behalf of Wind Park, Inc. to acquire the entire Drachen collection to be the foundation of Wind Park’s kite museum collection. Cho was interested and committed enough to come to Seattle and then Tieton, Washington, to personally see the collection and make the decision to acquire or not. With Ali Fujino as our guide, Cho and I visited museum sites in the Seattle area, including the Seattle Art Museum’s Sculpture Garden and the always-interesting Museum of Flight. Ali’s museum background proved to be a great asset to Cho as almost every subject was discussed: architecture, storage, marketing, and exhibit design, among others. Cho proved to be an interested and motivated student, all before even seeing the Drachen collection.

The two and a half hour trip to Tieton gave Cho a chance to relax and sight-see as we traveled from urban Seattle to very rural Tieton. Once there, we jumped into the midst of the Drachen collection: over twenty years’ worth of kite collecting that took on a life of its own (as many collections do). Our intent when we started the Foundation was to never be a museum, but rather to provide a study center and archive of kite material. That archive became a living collection when notable kitefliers donated their collections to us (including the bill lockhart and Betty Street collection, the Bonnie and Ed Wright collection, miniature kites from Harm van Veen, the Stormy Weathers collection, just to name a few). Along the 20 year journey, the Foundation also made decisions to acquire kites that we thought were particularly threatened, interesting, or beautiful and should be included in our collection. Thai chula and pakpaos, Cambodian kleng ek, Malaysian waus all came to us to complement the contemporary Western kites.

Page Number: 
12