The National Air and Space Museum will reopen half its main building, following a lengthy renovation, on Oct. 14.
One of the the most popular Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C., the National Air and Space Museum, is launching to new heights this fall, as it reopens half of its main building on Oct. 14, which will include the debut of eight new and renovated exhibitions, the planetarium, museum store, and Mars Café.
The flagship space located right on the National Mall is currently in the process of a seven-year renovation project that started in 2018 and will eventually see the redesign of all 23 of its exhibition spaces, as well as a new exterior and other internal upgrades and improvements.
“This is one of the most exciting times in the National Air and Space Museum’s history,” Chris Brown, a director at the museum, said in a statement. “When we open the first reimagined galleries, we hope all visitors are inspired by artifacts on display for the first time, favorite icons of aerospace presented in new ways, and diverse storytelling.”
The exhibits debuting next month are: “America by Air,” “Destination Moon,” “Early Flight,” “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery,” “Nation of Speed,” “One World Connected,” “Thomas W. Haas We All Fly,” and “Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age.” Among the new artifacts are Jackie Cochran’s T-38 (which was the plane she flew as the first woman to break the sound barrier), the Sharp DR 90 Nemesis air racer (which was designed by Jon Sharp and made air racing history), and the Aviation Specialties Unlimited Challenger III (which was Sean Tucker’s aerobatic biplane).
Star Wars fans will also enjoy seeing the X-Wing Starfighter that appeared in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which is being displayed for the first time, on loan from Lucasfilm.
Some old favorites will also be displayed in new ways. The Apollo 11 command module Columbia will be in a climate-controlled case next to Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, and the Wright Flyer from 1903 will be presented in a manner that better captures its story. There will also be more interactive hands-on displays throughout the museum.
As with other Smithsonian museums, the National Air and Space Museum is free, but will require timed-entry passes, which can be reserved now for tickets through November. Each person can book up to six passes for a time slot and tickets will be released in six-week blocks. (The next block will open Oct. 28.) Since only half the building will be open, crowds are expected, so book ahead.
While the central D.C. location is the National Air and Space Museum’s main facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, is also a part of the museum, and is open from 10 a.m to 5:30 p.m. daily with no admission fee (though parking costs $15).