NASM To Get A Makeover
The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum opened 41 years ago on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and is the most popular museum in the U.S., with about 8 million visitors a year. Now the NASM is due for its first major upgrade, the museum has announced. The seven-year project, which begins next summer, will transform the exterior of the building, and all 23 galleries will get a makeover. A new “We All Fly” exhibit will introduce visitors to the many different forms of general aviation, from aerobatics and air racing to gliders, ultralights, business aviation, agriculture and firefighting. Interactive elements will put visitors in the cockpit. Other new exhibits will focus on the Wright brothers, early flight, engineering and air travel. The museum will remain open to the public through the entire project.
“Transformation of exhibitions begins a new era for the museum,” said the director, Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey. “We’re developing innovative ways to experience America’s favorite museum through exhibitions that merge modern technology and design to highlight legendary aircraft and spacecraft.” Dividing the work into two stages, with part of the building operational at all times, will allow the museum to remain open. “A lot of people come to Washington once in their life,” Christopher Browne, deputy director of the museum, told Smithsonian Magazine. “They’ve got one trip on the Mall, and we want to make sure we can provide them with an experience. Granted, it won’t be the full museum, but certainly the half of the museum that will remain open at any given time will showcase some of our most iconic artifacts.” The total cost of the upgrade will be about $1 billion, raised from federal funding and private donations. More than 350 million people have visited the museum since it opened July 1, 1976. Admission is free.