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Field Trip: Get a Taste of Art, Outer Space, and Old School Hamburgers on the Way to Fort Wayne

Rita Volpi Rita Volpi Field Trip: Get a Taste of Art, Outer Space, and Old School Hamburgers on the Way to Fort WaynePhotos by Rita Volpi.
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Growing up, I loved a good field trip. Burned on my brain are visits to the Ohio Historical Society and COSI (old re-enactments! Pencils with rocks! Hall of Presidents!), places where we’d escape the classroom and explore something new. Having recently moved back to Columbus, I’m still down for new adventures. This Field Trip series highlights a few of those out-of-the-ordinary adventures, all of which can be done in a day.

The Fort Wayne Loop

Truth be told, the inspiration for Fort Wayne started with a cute shop I was following on Instagram. There was no way I was going to make a three-hour trip just for the shop, so I started poking around to see what else might be happening in Fort Wayne. When I came across an exhibit I thought I’d dig at the art museum, plus a few quick stops on the way, things really fell into place. Here’s the 411:

Stop 1: Wapakoneta – Armstrong Air and Space Museum

You get to Fort Wayne via 33-West out of Columbus, which takes you through Wapakoneta – home of Neil Armstrong. The Armstrong Air and Space Museum is the biggest tribute in town, and worth the visit. The exhibits feature Ohio astronauts (so many), history of the space race, and how Armstrong and his team got to the moon (basically in a tin can).

This small museum packs a lot in for big and little kids. I was enthralled with the movie footage of the moon landing and the newspapers celebrating this historical moment. There were several simulators – flight, landing and zero gravity. I was pretty bummed that no one was near by to hook me up to this one, because zero gravity! Interestingly, it appeared to be powered by a vacuum cleaner, and participants were held down by bars to a lift off six inches off the ground. Regardless, it looked hilarious, and I’m sure it’s worth a whirl. Bonus – the gift shop is A+ with loads of science stuff, astronaut suits and tons of replica patches from NASA.

Stop 2: Fort Wayne – Museum of Art

Fort Wayne’s Museum of Art caught my attention with its visiting Chuck Sperry exhibit. Sperry is known for his Greco-Roman/Haight-Ashbury-style screen-printing pieces. As noted on the FWMOA site, “The exhibit…feature(s) two large-scale tapestries designed by Sperry, 25 screen prints on oak panel, original ink drawings, and ephemeral color progressives which illuminate Sperry’s unique printing process.”

The color progressive highlights how these pieces come together, and it’s pretty amazing how each color is applied in layers. The museum even had Chuck Sperry on-hand for the opening, hosting a hands-on printing session.

They have a handful of additional events coming up featuring their guitar exhibit and Day of the Dead. Given the smaller size of the museum, I imagine these events can be pretty intimate and rad.

The Sperry exhibit ends on Dec. 9, so catch it while you can!

Stop 3: Lima – Kewpee’s Hamburgers

My brother tipped me off to this place, which he said served as an inspiration to Dave Thomas for Wendy’s. My searches on the internet seemed to agree, and a Frosty-like treat on the way back to Columbus seemed all right to me.

We visited the location on Elizabeth Street, which was built in 1939 and still has that old-timey look. According to the History section of the Kewpee’s website, that location used to have a turn table which rotated cars from the drive-thru so they could leave the parking lot. I didn’t see that, but it sounds pretty badass. I did get my face into one of their malts: more chocolatey than a Frosty, it was A+ and hit the spot before heading home.

Field Trip Time and Locations:

The trip takes around 10 hours, which included a diversion to Indian Lake (in search of fall colors) and stops at my little shop and lunch in Fort Wayne.

The Armstrong Air and Space Museum is located at 500 Apollo Dr., Wapakoneta, OH. The Fort Wayne Museum of Art can be found at 311 E. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN. And Kewpee’s Hamburgers (1939 building) sits at 111 N. Elizabeth St., Lima, OH.

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