The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will close its Presidential and Research and Development Galleries until further notice beginning May 1, 2013, as part of budget reduction requirements due to sequestration.
According to Museum Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson, museum leadership has been working with the Air Force to comply with Department of Defense sequestration guidance to determine the best possible course of action for reducing museum operational and maintenance costs with the least impact to the public.
"This was not an easy decision, as we have several popular exhibits in the Presidential and R&D Galleries, including President Kennedy's Air Force One and the XB-70 Valkyrie," Hudson said. "Our goal has been to make every effort to maintain museum operations to the maximum extent possible, and we hope to reopen these galleries as soon as possible."
The main museum complex will remain open to visitors from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week. The Air Force will fund utility costs for six days each week, and the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., will fund those costs one day per week from May through September.
"The Air Force Museum Foundation proudly supports the growth and expansion of the museum, as well as special events and programs," said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Richard V. Reynolds, chairman of the Foundation's Board of Managers. "In these extraordinary budgetary circumstances, it only makes sense to assist with day-to-day operations as well, employing funds earned from Foundation business operations and investments."
Additional sequestration impacts include the weekly Behind the Scenes Tours of the museum's restoration area, which will end after the April 26 tour until further notice, as well as cancellation of the Wings & Things Guest Lectures on April 30 and May 22 and all summer Aerospace Camps.
Other scheduled museum events also could be affected. Details will be announced on the museum's website as those events near.
Reductions announced earlier in the year have been extended to include the cancellation of all staff training and travel, minimal funding for mission critical supplies and the deferral of non-emergency facility maintenance.
"These are challenging times; however, we will continue our mission of sharing the Air Force story with the public and inspiring our youth," Hudson said. "We'll also keep providing information about museum exhibits and activities 24/7 through our website and virtual tour."