Casey Simmons checks the engine cowl work Feb. 23 at the Memphis Belle restoration at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The national Air Force museum in southwest Ohio will close some galleries starting next month due to federal budget cuts. (Ty Greenlees / The Dayton Daily News via AP)
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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will close its Presidential and Research and Development Galleries May 1 until further notice, as part of budget reduction requirements due to sequestration, officials announced Tuesday.
The main museum complex will remain open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 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 museum's leadership has been working with the Air Force to reduce 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,” said retired Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, the museum's director. “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.”
Additional sequestration effects 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 April 30 and May 22 and all summer aerospace camps.
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 also keep providing information about museum exhibits and activities 24/7 through our website and virtual tour,” Hudson said.
Other scheduled museum events also could be affected. Details will be announced on the museum's website.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton, Ohio. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission and parking are free. For more information about the museum, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.