Udvar-Hazy Center celebrates 10 years

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the only Smithsonian facility to have been built with private funds, marked 10 years of operation Dec. 15. An Open House will be held next month to commemorate the anniversary.

Since it opened in conjunction with the nation’s Centennial of Flight in 2003, the center has expanded in all areas: Size, scope of collections, displays, programs and educational activities, according to officials.

As of Nov. 30, more than 13 million people have visited the facility.

When it opened, the center had less than 500 artifacts on display, and today there are more than 3,000. That first year, only one of its massive exhibition hangars — the Boeing Aviation Hangar — housed displays. A year later, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar opened. In 2008, construction began on a second wing of the center. Completed in 2011, the wing includes the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, the archives and collections storage and operations units.

UdvarHazyWebSeveral annual events have been introduced, as well as family days, science activities, lectures and concert series.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is the second-most visited aviation museum in the country — second to the National Air and Space Museum’s flagship building in Washington — and Virginia’s most popular museum. It is named for aerospace executive Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, who donated $65 million for its construction.

The center’s 10th anniversary will officially be celebrated Saturday, Jan. 25, with an Open House. The daylong event will feature a behind-the-scenes look at artifacts and archival materials and include presentations on how the museum preserves, cares for and displays its collection of aircraft, spacecraft and related objects.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is unique among museum facilities in that, rather than thematic galleries, it follows a “displayed storage” exhibition plan, museum officials said. Visitors can watch collections specialists at work from a mezzanine above the restoration hangar.

The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport.


  1. Richard Baker says

    I volunteer at Udvar-Hazy twice a month and am always finding something new. The other amazing thing is the visitors who come to remember their military service or civilian use of the various aircraft. They tell stories about their bird whether it’s a Huey or some fixed wing aircraft that make my day when they speak. Tremendous place and I really enjoy volunteering there. Many thanks to Mr. Udvar-Hazy for his support which made it possible.

  2. Kashif Mir says

    Every time I visit the museum or the Udvar-Hazy Center I learn something new. Unfortunately the times I have been there it is with folks who are not as crazy about aviation as I am so I am forced to go through the exhibits faster than I would like. Perhaps some day I will go the the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly alone and enjoy every exhibit. Visiting the Udvar-Hazy Center is like a pilgrimage for the aviation buff!! Definitely worth the trip.

  3. Tom says

    I’ll be eternally grateful to the efforts of the late Adm. Don Engen, former Air and Space Museum director, and Don Lopez, of Flying Tiger fame. They were instrumental in bringing the Udvar-Hazy Center into existence. They were intrepid pilots and wonderful gentlemen, too.

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