The $22 million expansion of the Hill Aerospace Museum is complete and ready for public viewing.

Hill Museum and Hill Air Force Base officials, joined by builders and architects of the expansion, held a ceremony Monday to mark completion of the project. Work has taken about two years, though the project has been in the works for around 10 years, and the 91,000-square-foot addition boosts indoor exhibition space by 70%.

"The most important part, I think, is to tell the airmen's story, the contributions and the sacrifices made by our airmen," said Aaron Clark, museum director. "A lot of people really don't know. They might hear something on the news, or they might read something in their textbooks when they come here. We're hoping to bring that story alive to them."

Col. Jeffrey Holland, Hill Air Force Base commander, among others, addressed Monday's gathering. The gallery formally opens to the public on Thursday.

The museum, located on the northwest edge of the base, near Roy, opened in 1987 and moved to its current site in 1991. It features more than 90 military aircraft, missiles and aerospace vehicles, and the addition allows airplanes previously displayed outside to be moved indoors. The expansion also paved the way for the addition of two new aircraft to the museum collection — the U-2 Dragon Lady and an F-22 Raptor — and for the reorganization of the varied exhibits and airplanes.

Utah lawmakers appropriated around $15 million for the project, according to the museum, while another $5 million came from private donations. The new addition is divvied into the Alexander Hall and the L.S. Skaggs Gallery.

The Hill Aerospace Museum draws around 350,000 visitors a year.

Contributor: Mike Anderson