The 's has announced gifts totaling $28 million from nine commercial airlines in support of a major renovation of the museum's flagship building on the National Mall.
by the Smithsonian in October, the is expected to cost $650 million, with an additional $250 million in private funds needed to transform the museum's exhibitions and visitor experience. The airlines' contributions are the first major gifts to the campaign. In support of the gallery, one of the museum's three main halls, , the , and made lead gifts, with , , , , and all contributing supporting gifts.
In recognition of a gift from for the transformation of other museum exhibitions last year, the Welcome Center in the museum's Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall has been designated the Southwest Airlines Welcome Center.
The America by Air gallery is scheduled to be closed for construction starting in mid-2018 and will reopen in 2021. New exhibits will include the Lincoln-Standard H.S. and Huff-Daland Duster, which are currently on display at the museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. In addition, the visitor experience will be improved with a refreshed layout featuring a new design and graphics, new interactive features, and improved accessibility.
"The generous contribution by the airlines not only signals their commitment to the storied history of air travel, but to inspiring young people to pursue careers in aviation and engineering," said Gen. J.R. Dailey, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Air and Space Museum. "These gifts help launch the museum on a trajectory to realizing the transformation of this important place."
(Image credit: National Air and Space Museum)