NASM to partially reopen with new and newly reimagined exhibits in October

A special staff preview will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Apollo 11 Command Module in the “Destination Moon” gallery at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, in Washington, DC, July 28, 2022. (Smithsonian photo by Jim Preston)

I am very pleased to announce that the National Air and Space Museum will reopen half of its flagship building on the National Mall Friday, Oct. 14. The museum has been undergoing a seven-year renovation that began in 2018 and includes redesigning all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces, complete refacing of the exterior cladding, replacement of outdated mechanical systems, and other repairs and improvements.

 Eight new and renovated exhibitions, the planetarium, museum store and Mars Café will open in the building’s west end in October. We expect great interest from visitors, so free, timed-entry passes will be required to ensure visitors have an enjoyable experience. The passes will be available on the museum’s website Sept. 14.

The renovated museum will feature hundreds of new artifacts to the building such as Jackie Cochran’s T-38, the plane Cochran flew when she became the first woman to break the sound barrier; the Sharp DR 90 Nemesis air racer, the most successful aircraft in air racing history flown by pilot and co-designer, Jon Sharp; and Sean Tucker’s custom-built aerobatic biplane, the Aviation Specialties Unlimited Challenger III. The full-sized X-Wing Starfighter that appeared in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, on loan from Lucasfilm, will also be displayed for the first time and located outside of the planetarium.

      Exhibitions Opening Oct. 14:

Visitors can expect to see favorite artifacts presented in new settings. The Apollo 11 command module Columbia will be housed in a custom-designed, climate-controlled case as the centerpiece of the “Destination Moon” exhibition alongside Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. The 1903 Wright Flyer will be displayed in a dynamic new environment that better tells the story of the invention of flying and its implication on world history.

This is an exciting milestone for the National Air and Space Museum as we work to use creative and dynamic techniques to engage visitors while they are at the museum and after they leave. I know you join me as we look forward to visiting one of the world’s most popular museum destinations. NASM will announce details of a special staff preview of the reopened West End in the coming weeks.

Posted: 3 August 2022
About the Author:

Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and is the first historian to be Secretary of the Institution.

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