The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Architecture
Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the legislation which established the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) at the Smithsonian Institution. Here is a timeline of key moments in their history thus far:
- December 16, 2003 - Public Law 108-184 - National Museum of African American History and Culture Act establishes the museum at the Smithsonian
- October 2004 - Board of Regents appoints nineteen members to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Council to serve as advisors to the project
- March 14, 2005 - Lonnie G. Bunch III, then director of the Chicago Historical Society, was appointed Founding Director of the museum
- January of 2006 - Board of Regents selects the museum site on the National Mall near the Washington Monument on the southwest corner of 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, Northwest
- 2007-2008 - Staff complete extensive planning for the museum building, and an Environmental and Historic Preservation Report in May 2008
- 2007 - Museum staff complete their inaugural exhibit, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, at the National Museum of American History
- 2008 - Save Our African American Treasures Program begins with workshops on the preservation of historical materials for African American communities across the country
- April 2009 - The design team of Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group was selected from among twenty-two entries submitted by architectural firms worldwide
- 2010 - Exhibition - Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment
- 2011 - Exhibition - The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect and For All the World to See
- February 22, 2012 - Groundbreaking ceremony for the museum
- November 17, 2013 - First objects get installed in the museum
Ten years ago on December 15 the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened in Chantilly, Virginia, near the Washington Dulles International Airport. It coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight. Festivities leading up to the public opening day included a "Salute to Military Aviation Veterans," an opening celebration gala, and the dedication.
Part of the National Air and Space Museum, it serves as the companion facility to the museum on the Mall. Its two hangars, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar and the Boeing Aviation Hangar, amounts to 760,000 square feet. While the museum on the Mall can only display about 10 percent of the collections at a time, the immense Udvar-Hazy Center allows 80 percent of the collection to be on view.
These two facilities present the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world. Exhibition areas feature such topics from general aviation to modern military aviation to human spaceflight. It also has classrooms, an IMAX theater, and observation tower. Various artifacts include the space shuttle Discovery, a Concorde, and the restored Enola Gay.
The Center is named after donor Steven Udvar-Hazy, now chief executive officer of Air Lease Corp., who had pledged a total of $65 million for the project. Udvar-Hazy came to the United States with his family in 1958 as they fled Soviet-occupied Hungary. He would go on to co-found International Lease Finance Corp. while a student at UCLA. The successful aviation business leader wanted to give back to America with his donation to the Smithsonian. Congress had mandated that only non-federal funds be used for the construction.
"I'm thrilled to have the National Air and Space Museum's companion facility named in my honor. I know this new museum will impart to millions of children the same love for aviation that I have, and it will inspire future generations," Udvar-Hazy said in 2000.
The architectural firm HKO (formerly Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum) designed the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall, and it also was selected to create the new facility. Built in two phases the cost was estimated at $311 million to complete.
This seems like a fitting time to share some of the digital files that we have in the Archives about the opening of this facility. This includes documentation leading up to the opening, plans for the objects and construction issues, as well as images of the dedication and opening ceremonies.
- Udvar-Hazy Center, National Air and Space Museum
- Press release - National Air and Space Museum Opens the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on December 15, 2003, National Air and Space Museum
- Accession 07-183 - National Air and Space Museum, National Air and Space Society, Event Records, 1996-2006, Smithsonian Institution Archives
This post was originally meant to be published on October 9, 2013, but due to the federal government shutdown was delayed until now.
Just like the Capitol Building and the White House, the Washington Monument is instantly recognizable thanks to countless images both from the ground and air. Viewers are familiar with TV shows and films that feature a shot of the monument that reveals the location as Washington, D.C.
The 555-foot tall structure that honors George Washington's leadership during the American Revolution marks its 125th anniversary today as it officially opened in 1888.
Building of the monument started in 1848 and continued until 1884, with construction breaks due to funding challenges, political issues, and the Civil War. The monument even came up during a Board of Regents meeting in 1846 - the year the Smithsonian was established - during a discussion of land for the Institution:
Resolved, That the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution do select and adopt, as the site for their buildings, so much of the Mall, in the city of Washington, as lies between Seventh street and the river Potomac, subject to the power of Congress to grant any portion of the same west of Fourteenth street to the Washington Monument Society, for the purpose of erecting a monument thereon, if the consent of the persons named in the fourth section of the act to establish the Smithsonian Institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men be obtained thereto; and that, upon such consent being obtained in due form, the Secretary is hereby instructed to cause the said ground so selected to be set out by proper metes and bounds.
The monument was dedicated February 21, 1885, and the iron staircase inside was publicly accessible in 1886, according to the National Park Service. The monument though was closed to the public for most of 1887 because of vandalism by visitors. The Los Angeles Times reported in May 1887 that marble was chipped throughout the monument and bronze letters on a memorial stone were missing, in addition to scratches and names being etched onto the stones. These stones embedded in the walls were from individuals, societies, states, and nations.
The 1888 opening we celebrate today was the start of the public elevator service. The Washington Post reported that 32 people made that inaugural trip on October 9 after a few test runs by the crew. The elevator made it all the way up without any problems, but the reporter pointed out that a worker had climbed up some steps within the monument, got on top of the elevator, and actually rode on it to monitor the cables on the trip up. The article reported the view was amazing but the air was cold.
The monument now is covered in scaffolding and is closed while repairs are being done because of damage sustained during an August 23, 2011 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Mineral, Virginia. This event though was not unprecedented because in 1884 workers on top of the monument felt the effects of an earthquake in Ohio. No damage was reported then. Restoration work also was done from 1996-2000.
The monument is expected to reopen in 2014.