LOWER TOWNSHIP — The 92,000-square-foot hangar at Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is filled with generations of relics, from a World War II-era torpedo bomber to an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
However, the latest addition here is not a ton of hulking metal but an unobtrusive use of modern technology: QR codes that visitors scan with smartphones to learn more about the aircraft and aviation history.
Scanning the square codes brings up pages of information from the nonprofit’s website, such as the history and uses of the F-5E Tiger II and the UH-1 Huey and how the museum came to acquire them.
Bruce Fournier, deputy director of the museum at the Cape May Airport in Lower Township, said the codes, most of which were set up last week, were meant to supplement the guided tours the museum offers.
“It was really because the facility is so big. And in the shoulder season when we don’t have the staff and can’t really afford to staff it, we could use these QR codes,” said Fournier, 45, of the Cold Spring section of Lower Township.
“Museum staff ideas and feedback from customer and volunteers was (that) we needed to try to get more information in the hands of the public,” he said.
Last year, the museum received a $20,000 matching grant from the state Division of Travel and Tourism, its goal to broaden marketing of New Jersey attractions, Fournier said.
With some of that money, the museum put out a new brochure and included a QR code that directs visitors to a hidden page on its website that sometimes offers special deals and coupons, he said. It also increased advertising and marketing.
The museum drew almost 30,000 people in 2012, an almost 40 percent increase from the year before, Fournier said.
Fournier attributed some of that to increased marketing efforts, as well as plenty of favorable weather days, which for the museum are overcast days when summer travelers look for other activities away from the beaches.
“Now the goal is to keep that going,” he said.
Among the museum’s more recent attractions include the former air traffic control tower at Atlantic City’s Bader Field, an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a 41-foot U.S. Coast Guard boat.
The museum, which was a World War II flight-training base, has a section dedicated to the Coast Guard. The grey boat, which was recently sandblasted, will be repainted and restored along with the help of museum staff and volunteers from the Coast Guard, Fournier said.
This time of year, Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is open Monday through Friday. It will be open seven days per week starting April 1.
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