Judge Us By Our Hearts: Norman Prince and the Lafayette Escadrille

The inaugural exhibition of the newly-constructed Peirce Prince Gallery, “Judge Us By Our Hearts”: Norman Prince and the Lafayette Escadrille: American Aviators in France During WWI opened November 7. Co-curated by two authorities on early aviation, Paul Glenshaw and Dan Patterson, the exhibition examines aviator Norman Prince's unique role as a bridge between the invention of the airplane and the development of modern air warfare. Prince, who trained at the Wright brothers’ school, was a co-founder of the Lafayette Escadrille, a group of American volunteer pilots who fought for France before the United States officially entered World War I, and who eventually became known as "the founding fathers of American combat aviation."

 With original Lafayette Escadrille artifacts, the exhibition traces Prince’s role in the formation of the unit, its exploits and achievements, and its legacy, which still binds the United States to its longest standing ally, France. Construction of the Peirce Prince Gallery and the second story office space above it were made possible by generous donations from Helen Elizabeth Peirce Prince’s children and grandchildren, who have chosen to honor her with the creation of the gallery.

Curator Paul Glenshaw’s work has been published in the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine, Sport Aviation, Flying, and other periodicals. He is co-author and co-producer of the PBS documentary Barnstorming and the author of the play To Swing Through the Sky. He works extensively in STEM and STEAM education, and as an exhibit designer and curator. Dan Patterson, co-curator, has created more than 30 illustrated books on aviation history. A Smithsonian lecturer, in 2003 he received the first Harry B. Combs Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame for Excellence in the Preservation of America’s Aviation History.