Situated just off I-25 on the southern edge of Balloon Fiesta Park sits one of Albuquerque’s most beloved cultural landmarks. In front of sweeping views of the Sandia Mountains, the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum appears as a 60,000-square-foot inflating balloon surrounded by crystal blue skies. Inside, a gleaming glass and steel high bay gallery houses a dazzling display of gondolas, canopies, blimps, dioramas, artifacts, and artwork in countless mediums.
Collections, such as the Soukup & Thomas, explain how ballooning ushered in the “age of aviation.” While other exhibits show us the ways hot air and gas balloons have been used for exploration and adventure, as well as in espionage and scientific experiments. There are interactive multimedia experiences designed for the young and young at heart, and exhibits, such as the International Ballooning Hall of Fame, perfect for aviation aficionados. Through these dynamic permanent and special exhibitions, educational programs, and events, the museum brings the history, science, sport, and art of ballooning and other innovative forms of flight to life.
Perhaps no place is better suited to host the world’s premier balloon museum than Albuquerque, New Mexico. The city and state are home to some of the most unique and significant institutions in aviation, such as Kirtland Airforce Base; the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History; Spaceport America; the Albuquerque International Sunport; and the world’s largest balloon gathering, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Several important pioneers in aviation history have also called the Land of Enchantment home, including Albuquerque aeronauts Maxie Anderson and Ben Abruzzo. In 1978, Anderson and Abruzzo, along with Larry Newman, won world acclaim after completing the first nonstop trans-Atlantic balloon flight in the Double Eagle II. The Balloon Museum is named in honor of their legacies.
Since the museum opened in 2005, it has welcomed over one million visitors. The institution is supported by the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation, a private, non-profit that acts as the organization’s fundraising arm and biggest cheerleader. Through generous business sponsorships, individual memberships, and exciting annual fundraisers—such as the Balloon Fiesta dining and viewing events—the foundation helps bring the museum’s mission to the public. With their tireless efforts, the Balloon Museum has become a must-see for balloon enthusiasts from around the world.
From the earliest hot air balloon launches in France during the late eighteenth century to fictional depictions in classic films, such as the Wizard of Oz and Around the World in 80 Days, ballooning has held a magical space in our collective imagination. At Albuquerque’s Balloon Museum visitors can experience that magic firsthand and better understand both the rich history of ballooning and the art inspired by it.