A Photo Tour of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum

On Tuesday afternoon, I made a pilgrimage the to the National Capital Radio and Television Museum in Bowie, Maryland, USA.  The museum is located in a modest and beautiful historic house on the corner of Mt. Oak and Mitchellville Roads in Bowie.

RadioMeseumExterior

RadioMuseum-Exterior-FrontDoor

Museum Curator and volunteer, Brian Belanger, kindly gave me a private tour of the museum collections (the museum is closed on Tuesdays). Brian

Many thanks to Brian for taking time out of his day for the tour, and for allowing me to take some photos for the SWLing Post!

The museum has a number of display rooms with radios broadly grouped by style and decade. The first room offers examples of some of the earliest radios produced–including the venerable crystal radio (below).

[Click photos to enlarge.]

Miracle

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Like Brian, numerous volunteers work to keep the collections in working order. This isn’t a place where vintage radios come to die; they actually come to life here.

Volton-Battery

1920sRadioEven examples of some of their earliest radios are on the air and can be tuned to local and international stations.  Radio5

RCA-Radiola-60 RCA-Radiola-60Dial

This RCA “portable” (below), housed two batteries on either side of the center faceplate. Note the ad on the wall above–a couple enjoy the RCA as they recline on a beach.

RCA-Portable RCA-Portable-Dial Radiola-X-RCA Radio10 Atwater-Kent-Black Atwater-Kent-Black-Interior

Speakers of the day were pretty amazing, too–check out this hand-painted 1927 Air Chrome Double Cone Speaker, below.

Air-Chrome-Double-Cone-Speaker

The museum also has an extensive collection of studio and off-air recordings that can be played over an AM carrier throughout the building.

Atwater-Kent-Dial

By the late 1920s and early 1930s, radio manufactures built gorgeous console radios, features in the living rooms and parlors of many lucky homes.

Atwater-Kent

Crosley-Dial

Scott-ConsoleRadio

This E.H. Scott All-Wave 23 console (above and below) sported not only twenty-threee vacuum tubes, but a large, robust internal speaker. Radio collectors consider the All-Wave 23 to be one of the finest performing radios of the vacuum-tube era. Scott-Console-Radio-Dial

Zenith-Shuttle

The museum also features the Zenith 12-S-232 tabletop radio with working shuttle dial–a futuristic band-switching mechanical wonder with a stunning dial.

Zenith-Shuttle-Dial ClintonModel-445X

A number of tabletop and portable radios that span the decades have found their homes in this museum.  No doubt many SWLing Post readers cut their teeth on these classics!

Zenith-Trans-Oceanic-6500 Zenith-Portable American-Radio-AssociatesRealistic-Model-12-173 Garod-Model-582

I love the design of the Garod Model 5A2–wow! And I’m sure many kids of the fifties wished they had an official Hopalong Cassidy AM radio (below).HopAlongCassidy-Radio

The museum, of course, also houses a large number of classic televisions.

Pilot-Model-TVHallicrafters-TV Philco-TV Philco-TV-ControlsRadio stations and benefactors have also donated many items used in the industry, both in broadcast and retail.

NBC-Chimes PhilcoSign Midwest-Magazine SylvaniaSigns 980KC-MicBrian was also kind enough to take me to the building, next door, where they repair radios and store others for eventual rotation into the collection.

Workshop Repair4 Repair2

Museum volunteers also teach radio repair and restoration classes.Repair1 Repair3

GE-RadioThe number of classic ham radios, home brew receivers and transmitters was simply amazing. Indeed, I felt like a kid in a candy shop!

Radio1 National-NC-46 HalliDial Hallicrafters-SX100 Hallicrafters-SX62A Hallicrafters-SuperSkyrider Hallicrafters-Super-Skyrider CollinsTransmitterBy the end of the tour, I had decided to become a member of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum. Even though I live a few states away, I like knowing that my membership funds not only help preserve vintage radios and televisions, but also provide me members-only access to many of their scanned archives. Click to view a full list of benefits for a modest $25 membership.

Again, many thanks to Brian Belanger for the amazing tour of this wonderful museum!  Brian, I’ll be back next year…

8 thoughts on “A Photo Tour of the National Capital Radio and Television Museum

  1. Jean

    Beautiful pictures and the tour. My favorite is Air Chrome double cone speaker. Thanks for sharing. 73!

    Reply
  2. Michael Black

    Isn’t that couple on the beach Howard Armstrong and his wife?

    It looks like the picture of them I’ve seen before. He made a portable radio for her as a wedding gift.

    Michael

    Reply
  3. Ian from England

    Thanks for the great photos Thomas, the museum has some wonderful vintage radios. I like the Realistic “Pocket” Radio (though that description with a radio that size these days would surely raise eyebrows!), and especially like the Hopalong Cassidy radio too! In Europe we may be many thousands of miles away from the museum, but thanks to you (and Brian too, for showing you round), we can appreciate the collection. Thanks again!

    Reply
  4. Ed McCorry

    Thomas, thanks for the terrific photos! Now that I know the museum is there I will have to stop next time I’m up that way.

    Reply
  5. Moshe Ze'ev Zaharia

    What A lovely location! lovely radios!
    Liked the “portable” RCA, What A “BoomBox”… I love that all these radios are in working order.

    Best Regards,
    Moshe.

    Reply

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