Airbus gifts $6 million to Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum announced today a gift of $6 million for Phase Two of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from Airbus Americas Inc. The gift is the largest corporate gift to the Smithsonian Institution in 2008. In recognition of the donation, the Imax Theater at the Udvar-Hazy Center will be named the Airbus Imax Theater.

“The gift represents a generous contribution from Airbus, a reliable supporter of the museum for the past decade,” museum director Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey said. “To come through in the current economic climate demonstrates their commitment to partnering with the National Air and Space Museum in its mission to commemorate, educate and inspire visitors by preserving and displaying aeronautical and space-flight artifacts.”

Airbus gave a separate $5 million gift in 2000 for the construction of the Udvar-Hazy Center, which opened in 2003. That construction was privately funded, completed on time and $13 million under budget.

“The Smithsonian Institution is truly global in reach—a leader in preserving culture and illuminating science and history,” said Airbus Americas Chairman T. Allan McArtor. “As a global leader ourselves in the area of aircraft manufacturing, Airbus is helping shape the future of flying. By extending our existing partnership with the National Air and Space Museum, we also are helping preserve aviation’s past in a way that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.”

Airbus Americas President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Eccleston added, “The collection of the National Air and Space Museum is the largest and most significant of its kind, including many of aviation history’s most rare and iconic artifacts. Despite the challenging economic environment globally, it’s vital that the Smithsonian’s important work of preserving, restoring and educating continues to be supported. All of us at Airbus are gratified to be playing a role in making the Udvar-Hazy Center Phase Two project—and all that it will mean to future generations—a nearer-term reality.”

The museum’s collection includes an Airbus A320 cockpit that is a key item in the museum’s “America by Air” gallery, which focuses on the history of passenger air travel.

Phase Two of the Udvar-Hazy Center will be dedicated to the behind-the-scenes care of the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collection of aircraft, spacecraft, related artifacts and archival materials. This collection is the largest and most significant of its kind, with some 60,000 artifacts, including many of history’s most rare and iconic artifacts of flight.

The completion of Phase Two will help the museum accomplish its mission to collect and preserve our nation’s aviation and space history through the objects associated with it. The new wing includes:

  • Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar: spacious enough to accommodate several aircraft at one time with a second-floor viewing area designed to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at work rarely seen by the public.
  • Archives: the foremost collection of documentary records of the history, science and technology of aeronautics and space flight will be housed in a single location for the first time, providing researchers with ample space and equipment.
  • Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory: will provide conservators much-needed space to develop and execute specialized preservation strategies for artifacts.
  • Collections Processing Unit: a dedicated loading dock and specially designed secure area for initial inspection and analysis of artifacts.

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $12 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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