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MUSEUM EXPANSION PLANS|
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In recent years, the National Museum of the United States Air Force® has continued to add historically significant aircraft to its collection and further develop the storyline contained in its galleries. Foreseeing continued growth, museum officials and the Air Force Museum Foundation, a philanthropic, non-profit organization created in 1960 to assist the museum when federal funds are not available, recognized a need for added facilities and created a multi-phase, long-term facility expansion plan.
In 2003 the first phase of the expansion became reality with the opening of the 200,000 square-foot Eugene W. Kettering Cold War Gallery. In 2004 the museum opened the Missile & Space Gallery to exhibit its world-class collection of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and satellite boosters, along with elements of its space collection.
The next phase calls for a fourth building to house aircraft from the Presidential Aircraft and Research & Development Galleries, which are currently in a building on the controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, as well as an expanded Space Gallery and select global reach planes. In 2011 the museum developed a 50-year plan for its future expansion needs, including a consolidated campus with relocation of the Collection Management, Research, Exhibits and Restoration facilities, an education center and event space, additional entrance and parking, donor recognition areas and more visitor amenities. Taken as a whole, this vision confirms that exciting times are unfolding at the Air Force's national museum.
Eugene W. Kettering Cold War Gallery
Named in honor of the first head of the Air Force Museum Foundation's Board of Trustees, this 200,000 square-foot building opened in 2003. The Cold War Gallery features historical and modern aircraft such as the massive B-36, a B-1, an F-117 stealth fighter, an A-10 and the world's only permanent public exhibit of a B-2 stealth bomber, as well as providing temporary exhibit space for the Space Shuttle Exhibit, which will eventually move to the museum's fourth building.
Missile and Space Gallery
Resembling a missile silo in architectural design, the Missile & Space Gallery currently houses the museum's ICBMs and will eventually feature the satellite booster collection. The gallery stands 140 feet high and contains more than 12,500 square feet. Construction began in December 2002 and finished a year later in December 2003. Featuring an elevated viewing platform, the gallery combines with the Cold War Gallery to tell the story of the U.S. Air Force's contributions in Soviet containment and strategic deterrence during the Cold War. The gallery temporarily houses elements of the museum's space collection until a Space Gallery becomes part of the fourth building.
Implementation of the third phase of the expansion plan is underway as construction has begun on a new 224,000 square-foot building dedicated to four important elements in the history of the Air Force. The new facility will include a Space Gallery, the Presidential Aircraft Gallery, the Research & Development Gallery and the Global Reach Gallery.
The new Space Gallery will showcase the Space Shuttle Exhibit featuring the Crew Compartment Trainer, STEM Learning Node, and conceptual plans call for the gallery to include the museum's growing space collection, including an X-24A, X-24B, Titan IV rocket, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft, as well as a range of other rockets, satellite launch vehicles and spacecraft, spanning the history of the space age and exemplifying the Air Force's vast reconnaissance, early warning, communications and other space capabilities.
Presidential Aircraft Gallery
The museum is the repository for Air Force aircraft that have been retired from the presidential aircraft fleet. Currently, the museum's presidential aircraft are on display in an auxiliary hangar a mile from the main museum complex on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Visitors must be transported by bus to this facility. The fourth building will provide the opportunity to relocate this collection so all visitors can view nine presidential aircraft and walk through four of them, including the VC-54C Sacred Cow used by President Roosevelt, the VC-121E Columbine III used by President Eisenhower, the VC-118 The Independence used by President Truman and the VC-137C, also known as Air Force One, Special Air Mission (SAM) 26000, that served eight presidents including Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton. SAM 26000 carried President Kennedy's body back to Washington, D.C. from Dallas after his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, and served as the location where President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new president..
Research & Development Gallery
The Research and Development (R&D) Gallery will allow the museum to relocate many of the R&D aircraft to include the world's only remaining XB-70 and other aerospace vehicles. The exotic XB-70 could fly three times the speed of sound and was used as a research aircraft for the advanced study of aerodynamics, propulsion and other subjects. Research and development aerospace vehicles represent advances in technological problem solving and will increase the museum's opportunities to teach STEM themes and principles.
Global Reach Gallery
An important element of Air Force history will be told in the Global Reach Gallery. Providing airlift remains a major mission of the U.S. Air Force and it forms a critical part of the Air Force's ability to maintain global reach. The Global Reach Gallery will feature select cargo aircraft such as the C-141C Hanoi Taxi and C-130E. The Air Force's airlift and aeromedical evacuation missions will also be explained in this gallery.
Point of Contact
National Museum of the United States Air Force, Public Affairs Division, 1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 45433-7102; (937) 255-4704.
Revised August 2014