The 20th anniversary of opening the National Air and Space Museum
s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will take place in December. To commemorate this milestone, a celebration at the museum in Chantilly, Virginia, will take place Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public and offer a range of activities not available during a typical visit, such as the rare opportunity to go behind-the-scenes in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, expert talks by museum curators and staff, a conversation with aviation industry pioneer Steven Udvar-Hazy and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Onsite parking, normally $15, will be free Dec 2.
The Udvar-Hazy Center opened Dec. 15, 2003. Since then, it has welcomed over 24 million people. There are currently 1,989 aviation artifacts, 931 space artifacts and 105 art objects on display in the building. The center was named in honor of its major donorSteven F. Udvar-Hazyand features the large Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. Artifact highlights include the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in the world; the Boeing Dash 80, the prototype of the 707 airliner; the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay; space shuttle Discovery; the Apollo Mobile Quarantine Facility used in the Apollo 11 mission and the Mars Pathfinder Lander prototype. Other features of the center include the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, the Airbus IMAX Theater and the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, where visitors can watch museum specialists at work restoring artifacts.
The 20th anniversary celebration will highlight why the Udvar-Hazy Center is a must-visit destination and look forward to what is next. It will include the opportunity to walk through the Restoration Hangar and talk to museum experts that work to restore and preserve the collection. The Restoration Hangar is typically only viewable by visitors from a glass-enclosed mezzanine. Curators will give in-depth talks about highlighted artifacts such as the SR-71, the Martin B-26 Flak-Bait, space shuttle Discovery, the Friendship 7 capsule and the mothership model from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Visitors will have the opportunity to hear from the buildings main benefactor, Steven Udvar-Hazy, in an on-stage interview, and to meet museum director Chris Browne at the F-14 plane that he flew while in the Navy. Younger audiences can participate in story time and a variety of hands-on activities, such as Discovery Stations and paper airplane contests.