Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

655 Jefferson Drive SouthWest
Washington, DC 20565

202-633-2214

Our Mission:

The National Air and Space Museum shall commemorate the national development of aviation and spaceflight, and will educate and inspire the nation.

The National Air Museum

In 1946, President Harry Truman signed a bill establishing the Smithsonian's National Air Museum to memorialize the development of aviation; collect, preserve, and display aeronautical equipment; and provide educational material for the study of aviation. The legislation didn't provide for the construction of a new building; however, and the collection soon outgrew the Museum's exhibition space. Since there was no room left in the Arts and Industries Building or the "Tin Shed," WWII aircraft and other items such as engines and missiles were stored at an abandoned aircraft factory in Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The U.S. Navy had a similar collection in storage for the Smithsonian at Norfolk, Va.

In 1951 as a result of the Korean War emergency, the Museum had to vacate the Park Ridge premises. In response to the immediate need for space, Paul Garber, the National Air Museum's first curator, located 21 acres in Silver Hill, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. With the addition of several prefabricated buildings the site became the storage area for the National Air Museum. Garber had managed to save the collection. To honor his achievement, the location was named the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in 1980.

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