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Hill Aerospace Museum celebrates construction of third gallery

  • Published
  • By Donovan Potter, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Officials gathered Oct. 17 to celebrate the work underway on Hill Aerospace Museum’s new, 81,000-square-foot gallery.

The gallery is expected to be completed before Thanksgiving 2023 and will allow for most of the aircraft currently residing in the airpark outside the museum to have a place inside, protected from the elements.

Aaron Clark, Hill Aerospace Museum director, said the expansion will drive a major reorganization of the entire aircraft collection.

“Layouts in the two existing galleries will change to enhance the existing storylines and improve the care of the collection,” he said.

The museum began in 1984 as a 12,000-square-foot warehouse with five aircraft and a handful of artifacts. With the help of the U.S Air Force Heritage Program and the creation and support of the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah, the museum has expanded to 145,000 square feet of exhibit space under two galleries and a 34-acre outdoor airpark.

Clark said support from across the state is funding this new $20 million expansion.

“For the past five years, our foundation has worked hard to communicate our vision to the surrounding communities and to our elected officials, and then gain their support for this project,” he said. “This expansion is happening because of the generous and selfless contributions of our state and our donors.”

Included in the current construction and renovation project is the removal of a World War II barracks and renovation of the chapel that sits on the museum’s property.

Clark said museums encounter historical objects changing and aging over time, especially outdoor structures, but in most cases, it should not be concerning.

“It is the natural process of time impacting these objects,” he said. “However, we know it is our job to preserve the stories of these objects through one of many approaches, including the actual preservation of the physical object, or it could mean through displays and narratives.”

A new exhibit is planned that will highlight what life would have been like on base and in the surrounding community during World War II, including a major element focusing on the railroad and how it impacted the state and base workforce.

Clark said this new exhibit will also provide improved protection and care for historical aircraft that are part of the national collection and more educational opportunities.

“With this expansion, the Hill Aerospace Museum’s ability to educate and inspire our youth, to be a center of the community locally and abroad, will grow exponentially,” he said. “We will be able to experience this through the expansion of our storylines and new exhibits, new educational programming, and much more, while thriving for decades to come.”