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The Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, home since the mid-1950s for much of the museum's reserve collection of aviation and space artifacts, will cease conducting public tours effective March 31.
Workers at the popular Suitland, Md. attraction, which houses many rare and one-of-a-kind artifacts, will begin devoting all of their time to preparing artifacts for the move to the museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, being constructed at Washington Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.
General J.R. "Jack" Dailey, director of the museum, said, "In order to open the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in time for the centennial of flight, we must begin the process of transporting andh installing the scores of aircraft and spacecraft that will dynamically depict the history, science and technology of flight. Beginning on Dec. 15, 2003, visitors to the National Air and Space Museum will be able to experience more than ever before - more to see, more to do and more to learn."
Among the anchor artifacts to be displayed at the Udvar-Hazy Center will be the space shuttle Enterprise, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, a rare Boeing 307 Stratoliner, and the Boeing B-17 Swoose. More than 70 aircraft and 50 space artifacts will be on display for the opening.
The museum's flagship building on the National Mall, which attracts some 9 million visitors a year, and the Udvar-Hazy Center will comprise the world's largest air and space museum complex.
The Udvar-Hazy Center will eventually house the 80 percent of the museum's collection that has not been fully accessible to the public. It will also include an observation tower, IMAX theater, classrooms and a learning lab, and a food court.
The Garber Facility had been used as a preservation, storage and research facility until 1977 when some of the buildings were opened to the public for "no frills" tours. Visitors will be able to tour the Garber Facility until the end of March, but are asked to make arrangements in advance. For reservations and additional information, visitors should call (202) 357-1400 (voice) or (202) 357-1505 (TTY) between 9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., Monday through Friday
Located at 3904 Old Silver Hill Road, the facility offers tours Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Paul E. Garber (1899-1992), who was associated with the Smithsonian Institution for 72 years, was responsible for the acquisition of some of the National Air and Space Museum's most significant artifacts, including Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. The first curator of the museum, Garber retired as historian emeritus and was the museum's first Ramsey Fellow.