May 6th marks the anniversary of the tragic end of the airship Hindenburg, destroyed by fire as it came in for a landing at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey, in 1937. Last year, to commemorate the anniversary, we posted the story of Anne "Cookie" Chotzinoff Grossman, who, on October 9th, 1936, spotted the Hindenburg in flight from her Connecticut schoolyard. She took off in hot pursuit along with her brother Blair, but the giant airship got away from them; Cookie and Blair trudged back to school, and Cookie was made to write “I will not follow the Hindenburg” on the blackboard a hundred times.
On December 7, 1941, a US Navy squadron consisting of ten Sikorsky JRS-1 amphibious seaplanes was on station in the Hawaiian Islands. Shortly after the Japanese attack that Sunday morning, the planes were launched in an effort to locate enemy submarines and ships near Oahu.
How did you get an airplane inside the building? Is there life on other planets? What EXACTLY is GPS and how does it work? Why in the world is that in this museum? We hear these questions every day. There’s so much that goes on in museums that people just don’t understand. And there are a lot of interesting artifacts tucked into smaller galleries that visitors simply don’t notice. Then there are the GREAT stories behind every artifact – stories that just don’t fit on a label.
Sixty-two suits. Toni Thomas and I came up with that number after several days counting spacesuits and flight suits on stepladders in the Environmental Storage Room, Building 24 (ESRB24) at the Paul E. Garber Facility. These were the pressure suits in the National Air and Space Museum spacesuit collection that still needed soft, conservation-correct storage mannequins. That was June 2009. Amanda Young had just retired after the successful publication of her and Mark Avino’s book Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection. The book culminated fifteen years of hard labor on her part to document, reorganize and standardize the preservation, storage and exhibit conditions for the Museum's spacesuit collection.
I was recently inspired by a fellow Smithsonian educator’s blog post at the National Museum of American History. Megan’s tips for bringing young children to the museum were so helpful that I wanted to join in the conversation with tips for bringing young children to the National Air and Space Museum.
Getting ready to move gives you a chance to pull all those old boxes out from the back corners of your closets. You know what's in them - like that box with Uncle Bob's 1970s lime-green polyester leisure suit - but it's always good to double check these things. It's no different when you're preparing to move an archival collection.
This week, the Museum moved its first aircraft into the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hanger in the new wing of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. The aircraft is the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, the same type of aircraft flown by former Museum director, Don Engen during World War II.