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NEWS | March 19, 2010

Museum renovation underway

By Mike Joseph 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

Anticipation is growing for History and Traditions Museum officials, who are eagerly awaiting completion of the structure's extreme makeover.

The construction side is expected to finish in May; museum officials said they need several weeks to construct new exhibits and add new technology before reopening.

While the museum's remake didn't go to the lengths of the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - bulldoze a structure and rebuild from the ground up - the comparison may be close.

The interior was completely renovated and the exterior walls were removed and replaced.

"It's the first time it's had any kind of facelift, so it's going to be like a brand new building for us," said Tracy English, 37th Training Wing historian, about the structure built in 1942. "We are excited about the work being accomplished, all the great things that are happening."

The museum closed Oct. 2 for the project. It includes adding a bathroom, renovating, enlarging and combining existing bathroom facilities; extending handicap accessibility to all bathrooms and the front entrance; replacing the exterior walls with stucco; sealing the building for energy efficiency; installing professional museum lighting; grading the property to prevent flooding; and adding another air conditioning unit.

And those are the cosmetic changes. Along with new displays and exhibits, Mr. English said the museum would also begin to add new technology like large screen LCD and plasma screen TVs that will help tell the story of basic training, the Airmen and how they have evolved in the Air Force.

"Some of the technology may not come right away but having the new exhibit spaces will help us tell the story better," he said. "We've always been a low-tech museum but we tell the story really, really well."

Second Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, and the 37th Training Wing provided the funding of more than $670,000 for the renovation.

"It's phenomenal for a field-level museum to get that type of money," Mr. English said. "We're extremely excited (because) we've never (had those) resources before. It's going to push us a long way into the 21st Century."