The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has announced that doors to the newly-renovated western half of the museum will open to visitors on October 14, unveiling a total of eight brand new exhibits and reopening the planetarium and café. The museum has been closed since March 2022, as part of an ongoing seven-year plan to redesign all 23 of the existing exhibits.
The exhibits will cover the history and innovation that has led space exploration through the decades, covering everything from the earliest attempts at flight to the technology that landed humanity on the moon.
Must-see new installations include the T-38 plane flown by Jackie Cochran, the first woman ever to break the sound barrier, and (sci-fi fans rejoice!) the original X-Wing Starfighter that appeared in the 2019 film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Visitors can expect an interactive and immersive experience with these new exhibits, including a tour of the solar system in the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery.
If you were a fan of the museum before the closure and want to make sure beloved installations will still be available, fear not: many artifacts from before the renovation are still there, just displayed in reimagined ways. For example, the Columbia command module from the Apollo 11 flight will remain on display in the “Destination Moon” exhibit, as well as Neil Armstrong’s space suit.
“This is one of the most exciting times in the National Air and Space Museum’s history,” said Chris Browne, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the museum, 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.”
Entry to the museum will be free, but guests will need to pre-register for a timed-entry ticket. Details on the renovation, including more information on each of the new exhibits, is available at the National Air and Space Museum’s website.
Feature image by Jim Preston
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