National Air and Space Museum 2015 Annual Report


Spirit of St. Louis Conservation
The Engen Conservation Chair, Malcolm Collum, performs conservation treatment on the Spirit of St. Louis' engine.


  • The Collections Department was awarded $105,000 as part of a Collections Care and Preservation Fund grant for building custom pallets for artifact movement and storage.
  • In 2015, 6,500 artifacts were relocated from the Paul E. Garber Facility to storage at the Udvar-Hazy Center, bringing the total number of artifacts moved since the Center opened in 2003 to 18,500. In addition, 4,000 of the more than 9,000 non-display artifacts and 160 pieces of art from the Museum in Washington, DC have been relocated to storage at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Some of these items were moved for safekeeping during revitalization of the building.
  • The remodel of the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall continued in 2015. Artifacts such as the Spirit of St. Louis and Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis were moved to the floor of the gallery for conservation, while others were transported to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Udvar-Hazy Center. New artifacts, such as the NACA wind tunnel fan, were installed, and the Lunar Module was moved from its location in the east end to Milestones for permanent display. By the end of the year, many artifacts had been re-suspended, and crews began construction. The gallery is scheduled to be completed in July 2016.
  • The Collections Department began preservation of the Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder Flak-Bait and the Apollo Telescope Mount. Flak-Bait will be reassembled and put on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center. When completed, the telescope mount will go on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center’s James S. McDonnell Space Hangar.
  • Smithsonian staff began 3D scanning several iconic objects in 2015. The data will be used to create virtual tours of these objects and a host of future immersive interactive experiences. Test scans of the Space Shuttle Discovery were conducted in prep for a full scan to be completed over the next year. The Smithsonian Digitization Program Office is also 3D scanning most objects in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall such as the Bell X-1, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia. This Discovery 3D project is made possible by the generous support of one of the Museum's Board members, Meredith Siegfried Madden, and her husband, Peter Madden.

Emil Buehler Conservation Lab

  • The Smithsonian's first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign exceeded expectations by raising more than $700,000 for conservation and display of Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit, as well as Alan Shepard's Mercury spacesuit. The campaign, called "Reboot the Suit," reached its first goal of $500,000 within five days, and went on to meet the "stretch goal" of $700,000 by the end of the campaign 25 days later.
  • The Conservation Department received two Collections Care and Preservation Grants:
    • For the project "Conservation Survey and Preventative Conservation of Radioactive and Non-Radioactive Artifacts from the National Collection" in the amount of $266,000
    • For the project "Conservation Triage III, Stabilization Treatment for Surveyed Objects Identified as Requiring Immediate Treatment" in the amount of $189,000
  • To aid conservators in achieving authenticity in restoring the Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model to its August 1967 appearance, the Museum asked Star Trek fans for firsthand, pre-1976 images or film of the model. A press release and blog post garnered 77 photos, three of which were precisely the images needed to complete the model’s conservation. The Enterprise will go on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in July 2016.
  • Using Kendall Charitable Trust funds, the unit began conservation treatments for the Evelyn Way Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection.


  • In July of 2015, the Museum's Archives completed a major digitization project with Gale Cengage Learning and Research Solutions. The project involved Gale Cengage digitizing an estimated one million items from the Archives collections that are now available to Smithsonian staff and visiting researchers as well as various libraries, universities, and other learning institutions. The Archives' collections are one of a series of resources Gale Cengage is developing with the Smithsonian titled "Smithsonian Collections Online."