2019 was a big year at the National Air and Space Museum, as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and worked hard on our ongoing renovation. We shared stories about these projects and more on the blog this year. Let’s dive into five of the most popular stories of 2019.
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.
Next year, the National Air and Space Museum will begin restoring and preserving aircraft in the brand-new Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, part of the Phase Two complex now under construction at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. To treat the aircraft, the Museum applies a philosophy and range of techniques that have steadily evolved through the years.
Looking at the seemingly endless aisles of crates at the Paul E. Garber Restoration and Storage Facility, it is not a great stretch of the imagination to picture Indiana Jones scouring these narrow labyrinths for that anonymous wooden crate housing the notorious Ark.
The staff at the National Air and Space Museum are gearing up for the annual Mars Day!, a celebration of the Red Planet. On July 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors at the Museum can partake of a variety of educational and family fun activities throughout the galleries.