Tour groups visiting the National Air and Space Museum in D.C. this fall should be aware of a few updates due to renovations to the museum. Be sure to check out what galleries are temporarily closing and which of your favorites will still be open during renovations this fall.
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, the largest collection of historic air & space objects in the world, is in the middle of undergoing a seven-year renovation project that will reimagine all 23 galleries and presentation spaces in its iconic National Mall building in Washington, DC, to "inspire a new generation of pioneers and explorers."
Starting this week, the entrance on Independence Avenue will no longer be accessible, and all visitors must enter through the entrance on the National Mall.
Additionally, two additional exhibitions will temporarily be closing. These exhibitions will be “Early Flight” and “Exploring the Planets.” The east wing of the museum, the Planetarium and IMAX theater will remain open. Many of the museum’s icons, including the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the 1903 Wright Flyer, Bell X-1, Skylab and the Apollo Lunar Module, will remain on display.
The 250 million-dollar renovation project will result in over 1,400 new objects on display and over 5,200 artifacts moved and preserved. In order to keep artifacts safe during construction, most will be moved to a new state-of-the-art collections storage facility at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The renovation will refresh some exhibitions but retain their current themes, while other exhibitions will be completely replaced. The first set of new galleries is scheduled to reopen in 2022.
Why is the renovation happening now?
According to the Air and Space Museum, since opening in 1976, the ﬂagship location has welcomed more than 350 million people—that’s more than the population of the United States—which makes for some serious wear and tear, inside and out.
While sections of the Museum will be closed for construction over the years, the Museum will remain open to the public, and our year-round programming for kids, educators, and aerospace enthusiasts will continue.
The National Air and Space Museum is a popular student group destination - be sure to check out our licensed tour guide's travel tips for visiting the museum by reading our SCHOOL TRIP SPOTLIGHT: National Air and Space Museum.