Agency history, 1933-

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  • Garber, Paul Edward 1899-1992
  • Lopez, Donald S. 1923-2008
  • Hardesty, Von 1939-
  • Pisano, Dominick 1943-
  • Crouch, Tom D
  • Maxwell, Ted A
  • Casey, Louis S
  • Meyer, Robert
  • Wooldridge, E. T
  • Newland, Kenneth E
  • National Air Museum (U.S.) Department of Aeronautics
  • United States National Museum Section of Aeronautics
  • National Air and Space Museum (U.S.) Collections and Research Department
  • National Air and Space Museum (U.S.) Aeronautics Division


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • The National Aeronautical Collection originated in 1876, when the Chinese Imperial Commission presented the Smithsonian Institution with a gift of kites at the close of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. In 1933 Paul E. Garber was appointed the first Assistant Curator of Aeronautics in the Department of Engineering, United States National Museum. In 1946 Congress created a separate National Air Museum.
  • During fiscal year 1965, the National Air Museum was divided into five departments, one of which was the Department of Aeronautics. Garber, who joined the staff in 1919 and had been Assistant Curator for Aeronautics since 1933, was named Assistant Director for Education and Information. The Department was divided into three sections: Flight Craft, Flight Propulsion, and Flight Material, headed by Curators Louis S. Casey, Kenneth E. Newland, and Robert B. Meyer, respectively. In 1996, the Art Unit from the Exhibits and Public Services Department was moved to the Department of Aeronautics. In 1997, the Department was reorganized as the Aeronautics Division, under the new Collections and Research Department, headed by Ted A. Maxwell, Associate Director, 1998- .The Aeronautics Division was renamed the Aeronautics Department in 2014.
  • Donald S. Lopez, who had been Assistant Director for Aeronautics since 1971, became Chairman in 1980. Lopez served as Chairman until 1983 when he became Deputy Director of the Museum, and Edmund T. Wooldridge, Jr. became Chairman, serving until 1986. Von D. Hardesty became Acting Chairman in 1986 and then Chairman, 1986-1988, when Donald S. Lopez became Acting Chairman. In 1989 Dominick A. Pisano was appointed Acting Chairman. Tom D. Crouch became the Chairman of the Department, serving 1990-1999.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of" above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1933
  • 1933-


  • Aeronautics
  • Exploration
  • Museums
  • Aeronautical museums


Outer space


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00123

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