Paul E. Garber Facility

The Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility is named in honor of Paul Edward Garber (1899-1992), who was instrumental in collecting more than half of the Smithsonian-owned aircraft.

Known as “Silver Hill” when it opened in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC of the same name, the Garber Facility came to house the ever-expanding collection of aircraft, spacecraft, and other artifacts. One building was dedicated to a large shop where collections specialists worked to preserve treasured artifacts. 

Today, the no-frills assemblage of about 32 metal buildings still belongs to the National Air and Space Museum and other Smithsonian organizations, but the majority of the collection is being moved to a more modern, well-equipped location. The main preservation and restoration workshop has moved to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.  While some airplanes, spacecraft, engines, and various parts are still stored at the Garber Facility, most have been, or soon will be, relocated to the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Paul E. Garber

Paul E. Garber (1899-1992)

Paul Garber began working at the institution in 1920, building models and preparing exhibitions. For the next 72 years he dedicated himself to the preservation of the nation's aeronautical heritage and to sharing his boundless enthusiasm for flight with Smithsonian visitors. He played a key role in the creation of the National Air Museum in 1946, and was indispensable in the effort to construct the present National Air and Space Museum building in Washington, DC, which opened in 1976. Most important, Garber, working on his own and with little support, almost single-handedly amassed the finest collection of historic aircraft in the world, including one of the Museum's most prized possessions, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis.