The National Air and Space Museum will receive a donation of $15 million from The Boeing Company in continued support of its education and preservation efforts. It is the single largest corporate gift ever presented to the Smithsonian Institution.

The gift will help fund museum programming, the care of artifacts and remaining construction at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

In recognition of the donation, the central structure at the Udvar-Hazy Center will be known as the Boeing Aviation Hangar.

“Once again, Boeing has stepped forward with a timely, magnanimous gift,” said Lawrence M. Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “Their past generosity has supported Air and Space museum lectures, galleries, preservation and the building of the Udvar-Hazy Center itself. We are very grateful for this vital support from a true friend of the Smithsonian.”

Boeing gave a separate $5 million in 1998 for the Phase One construction of the Udvar-Hazy Center, which opened in 2003. That construction was privately funded, completed on time and $13 million under budget.

“As a vital center for the preservation and growth of aviation history, science and technology, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is one of America’s great institutions, and we are honored to support it,” said Jim McNerney, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Boeing. “The museum inspires all of us to learn more about our planet and the world beyond, which makes it a terrific partner for the people of Boeing, who share this passion.”

At the museum’s flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, Boeing has been the lead sponsor since 1996 of “How Things Fly,” contributing $1.4 million to create the museum’s first interactive gallery to explain the principles of flight. The student-friendly exhibition features dozens of hands-on educational activities and live daily science demonstrations. Boeing’s ongoing role of support will now be acknowledged prominently at the gallery’s entrance.
The museum’s collection includes 43 Boeing-built or related aircraft that played prominent roles in the history of 20th-century aeronautics. Several are on display or slated for display in the Udvar-Hazy Center aviation hangar. The center is also home to several large space artifacts developed by Boeing or firms that later merged with the company.

“The name Boeing is written in virtually every chapter of the history of air and space exploration,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, director of the National Air and Space Museum. “As we face the growing challenge of funding a quality 21st-century museum with two locations and free to every visitor, we are fortunate to have such a generous partner. This gift will go a long way toward helping the museum fulfill its mission to commemorate, educate and inspire.”

The museum’s preservation mission, the cornerstone of the next phase of construction at the Udvar-Hazy Center, dovetails with several Boeing-supported initiatives, both cash and in-kind.
Boeing has helped fund the continuing restoration of the museum’s Saturn V rocket on display at the Johnson Space Center near Houston. It is the only existing example made of flight-ready components. The company built the 138-foot first stage of the Apollo rocket that took humans to the moon and was in charge of assembling all three stages and providing mission support for NASA.

Restorations of the museum’s “Dash 80,” the original prototype of the Boeing 707, and the sole-surviving Boeing S-307 Stratoliner, the world’s first pressurized passenger airplane, were supported by the company at its Washington state facilities. Under museum supervision, the work was performed by current and former Boeing employees and the finished airplanes were flown to Virginia in 2003 for permanent display at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Boeing also has made possible the museum’s annual John H. Glenn Lecture, which was inaugurated in 2004 with remarks by the series’ namesake, followed last year with a presentation by former NASA flight director Gene Kranz. The company was also a major sponsor of the museum’s exhibition on future space exploration, “Where Next Columbus?,” which opened in 1992 and closed ten years later.
A second phase of construction for the Udvar-Hazy Center, to include archives, collections storage and a restoration hangar with overlooks for visitors, will begin when full funding has been raised. Strong progress in fundraising has been made in recent months.

The National Air and Space Museum—composed of the Udvar-Hazy Center and the flagship Mall building—is home to the world’s finest collection of artifacts of flight. From aircraft and space vehicles to engines, art and models, the wide array of the museum’s holdings tells the story of the history and technology of air and space exploration.

Since 1976, visitors to the Mall building have marveled at the Wright brothers’ original 1903 Flyer, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, a touchable Moon rock and spacesuits of the men who walked the lunar surface. It is the most visited museum site in the world. With the 2003 opening of the Udvar-Hazy Center, the museum has been able to display the larger icons in its collection, including a Concorde and the space shuttle Enterprise, which is the centerpiece of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar.
The museum is also a key institution for research into the history, science and technology of aviation and space flight.