News & Politics

The Original National Air and Space Museum Will Partially Reopen This Fall

The National Mall attraction has been closed for renovations since March.

The museum's renovated west end will feature eight new or updated exhibits and several new artifacts. Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian’s original National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall is set to partially reopen on October 14, with eight new and renovated exhibits.

The museum, which started its seven-year renovation plan in 2018, closed its doors temporarily in March. It is currently redesigning all 23 exhibits and presentation spaces, changing and updating the building’s exterior, and replacing any outdated machinery.

“This is one of the most exciting times in the National Air and Space Museum’s history,” says museum director Chris Browne in a press release. “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.”

Though only half of the building will be open to the public this fall, the exhibits are expansive. They include America by Air, which explores the history of air transportation in the United States; Destination Moon, a collection of artifacts from space missions to the moon; Early Flight, which details the history of air travel; Nation of Speed, an exhibit on the history of air racing; and One World Connected, where museum goers can see different inventions that have made communication possible throughout history. Visitors will also be able to access the planetarium, museum store, and Mars Cafe.

Several new artifacts will be on display as well, such as Jackie Cochrane’s plane, the Sharp DR 90 Nemesis air racer, and the X-Wing Starfighter from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will be outside the planetarium. The Apollo 11 command module will also have its own updated display case in the Destination Moon exhibit.

Free timed-entry passes required to visit the museum will be available starting on September 14 on the Air and Space Museum’s website. In the meantime, the National Air and Space Museum’s expansive Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center remains open in Northern Virginia.

Maggie Hicks
Editorial Fellow