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Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum receives $11 million gift from Allan and Shelley Holt
Artist rendering of The Exploring the Planets exhibition. © Smithsonian Institution.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The National Air and Space Museum received an $11 million gift from Allan and Shelley Holt made through The Hillside Foundation to support the creation of a new gallery, part of the dramatic transformation of the museum’s building on the National Mall. The “Allan and Shelley Holt Innovations Gallery” will be a dynamic space that explores how new inventions shape aviation and space exploration in this century and the next. Scheduled to open during the second half of the seven-year project, this gallery is one of the 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces that will be renovated with a contemporary design, new and freshly conserved artifacts, hands-on interactives and immersive experiences.

“Allan and Shelley’s generous support of this new gallery demonstrates their continued dedication to inspiring the next generation of inventors and innovators,” said Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum. “This is an exciting time for the museum, and we couldn’t transform this important place for the future without the commitment and vision of friends like the Holts.”

A central aim for the “Innovations Gallery” will be to share the breadth of current work, demonstrating that innovation occurs in multiple ways from diverse voices with different goals. As the subject is extremely active and rapidly changing, the gallery will be a flexible space, allowing the museum to share new stories in exhibits that will rotate on a six-month to one- or two-year basis. Though plans for the gallery are in the very early stages of development, it will be one of the most dynamic spaces in the reimagined museum and will invite visitors to experiment and explore in a modern laboratory setting.

“Shelley and I are proud to be a part of the campaign to transform the National Air and Space Museum,” said Allan Holt, a senior partner and managing director of the Carlyle Group. “With its focus on new and emerging technologies, the ‘Innovations Gallery’ captured our imagination because of its potential to inspire the aerospace pioneers of tomorrow.”

This gift continues the Holts’ support of the museum. Allan Holt is the museum’s board chairman and helped to create the endowed Holt Scholars Program in 2015. In its fourth year, the Holt Scholars Program brings middle school students from DC Public Schools to the museum for specially curated field trips that align with their science curriculum and supports teachers and students in their classrooms with pre- and post-visit lesson plans and activities. A portion of this recent gift will support educational programming in the “Innovations Gallery.”

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