National Air and Space Museum Receives "Ascent" Sculpture for Display at Udvar-Hazy Center

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Monday, September 8, 2003 (All day)

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The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum received into its collection today (Sept. 9) "Ascent," a polished steel sculpture reaching 70 feet in the air.

The work will welcome visitors to the museum's new companion facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The sculpture, standing 200 yards from the entrance to the new facility, was donated by renowned Virginia sculptor John Safer. Weighing 11,000 pounds, the sculpture was engineered by Steven Capri of Hauppauge, NY. The Udvar-Hazy Center will open on Dec. 15.

"John Safer's unique vision sets the stage for the visitor experience and is a creative, dramatic and inspiring welcome to our visitors to the Udvar-Hazy Center," said Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey, director of the National Air and Space Museum. "The sculpture commemorates the human journey of flight, echoing the sweeping grandeur of the museum's collection."

John Safer of McLean, Va., is a sculptor of national and international fame as well as a successful entrepreneur. His work stands in more than 500 private collections and public sites and has been exhibited in museums, embassies and universities throughout the world.

In addition to the Smithsonian, his works are in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Milwaukee Museum of Art, Georgetown University Hospital, Harvard Business School and Law School, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the United States Embassies in Beijing, Bern, Brussels and London. Safer earned a bachelor of arts degree from the George Washington University and a bachelor of laws degree from Harvard.

Safer also designed the National Air and Space Museum Trophy, titled "Web of Space," which is on display at the museum's flagship building on the National Mall. The trophy is awarded annually for significant achievements in the history, science and technology of air and space.

More than 200 aircraft are ultimately destined for the Udvar-Hazy Center's aviation hangar, which is 10-stories high and the length of three football fields--enough space to hold the museum's flagship building on the National Mall inside with room to spare. The center was designed by Helmuth Obata + Kassabaum, the architectural firm responsible for the flagship building.

The National Air and Space Museum, comprised of the Udvar-Hazy Center and the museum's original building on the National Mall, will be the largest air and space museum complex in the world. The flagship building is the most popular museum in the world, attracting more than 9 million visitors each year. Attendance at the Udvar-Hazy Center is projected at 3 million people a year.

  • Ascent Sculpture, Udvar-Hazy Center
    "Ascent" sculpture shortly after installation at the entrance to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
  • Ascent Sculpture, Udvar-Hazy Center, assembly
    "Ascent" sculpture during assembly at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.