HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
Since the inaugural opening in 1984, the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base has awed, educated and inspired more than 5 million visitors. The museum recently hit that 5 millionth marker in November 2019.
Aaron Clark, director for the Hill Aerospace Museum, said the employees and volunteers are elated to hit that number.
“Knowing that more than 5 million people from around the globe learned a little about the important and historical contributions of the men and women of this installation motivates and inspires the museum team,” he said.
The museum started off in 1984 as a 12,000-square-foot warehouse with five aircraft and a handful of artifacts. With the help of the United States Air Force Heritage Program that began in 1981 and the creation and support of the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah, the museum has been able to obtain the funds and collection pieces necessary to evolve and grow.
The museum has expanded to 145,000 square feet of exhibit space with two galleries and a 34-acre outdoor airpark. There are more than 70 aircraft and 3,300 artifacts on display. The museum averages 300,000 visitors a year and reaches around 30,000 students through the education center.
“The Hill Aerospace Museum has a clear vision to become and serve as the premier Air Force Field Museum with a resolute focus on the history of Hill Air Force Base and Utah aviation as well as to provide unique STEM educational opportunities for tens of thousands of students each year,” said Clark.
Clark said since he became the director six years ago, they have put into action an educational initiative that has resulted in the construction of a five-classroom learning center that teaches the community about STEM and aerospace focused curriculum to inspire tomorrow’s Airmen.
What’s also unique is the addition of a C-130 airframe that has been converted to a classroom where students can get an immersive aerospace experience. The museum also offers student internships and a yearlong fellowship through a partnership with Utah State University.
“The museum has done some incredible things,” said Clark. “We have implemented a robust strategic plan to improve the collection and its care, improve the facilities and ultimately improve the visitor experience.”
More than 20 new exhibits are being planned for the future, including several new statics such as the MQ-1 Predator drone and the F-117 Stealth Fighter.
“These new exhibits will enhance the presentation and implement additional narrative exploring the rich history and critical contributions of Hill Air Force Base,” said Clark.
The museum also offers its space for events where both the installation and the community can hold special gatherings during and after operating hours. Over the past six years, the Hill Aerospace Museum has been presented TripAdvisor’s Award of Excellence and admitted into the TripAdvisor hall of fame. Clark said the museum also has made the list for Lyons Press’s new publication “The Top 100 Military Sites in America.”
“This is a direct reflection of the community and visitors’ opinion on our contribution,” said Clark. “This is why we are here. The museum is about the community, period.”
And the best part? Clark said, “Admission is free!”