Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Director's Message

A Year Marked by Anniversaries

In 1609, Galileo Galileo made the first recorded astronomical observations with a telescope.

On June 28, 1909, the world's first Military Flyer, built by the Orville and Wilbur Wright, was demonstrated successfully at Fort Myer, Virginia.

In the summer of 1969, people all over were captivated by the mission of Apollo 11. On July 20, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, an event that was broadcast worldwide.

As a museum with dual commitments to history and science, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum focuses its activities in three major areas: aviation, space exploration, and planetary studies. In 2009, we recognized anniversaries in all three. These historic events, as well as myriad other activities presented by the Museum last year, were guided by our mission, to "commemorate," "educate" and "inspire."

This year's annual report, our first such web-based publication, covers the broad scope of activities offered at both Museum buildings, on the National Mall in Washington and at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. It highlights achievements in research, educational outreach and public programs, exhibitions, collection care, and in the many other ways we serve the public. Throughout 2009, we pursued a tradition of discovering new things, succeeding at firsts, and increasing audience engagement and outreach. We participated in the discovery of Rembrandt, an impact basin on Mercury. We opened an observatory outside the Mall building and made significant progress constructing a new wing of the Udvar-Hazy Center. And we drew record numbers of participants to on-site and outreach activities.

As the Director of the National Air and Space Museum, I am proud of what we achieved over the past year and am pleased to be able to share our accomplishments with you. This report reflects the support and hard work of generous donors, devoted volunteers, and dedicated staff members. In a year marked by anniversaries recognizing Galileo, the Wright brothers, and the mission of Apollo 11, the Museum honored its commitment to the past while charting a course for the future.

J.R. Dailey