Completion Countdown on for Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Galleries

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum reveals details on the last 12 galleries, providing a unique window into aviation history and the next era of flight exploration.

An artist’s rendering depicts the new National Science Foundation Discovering Our Universe gallery featuring lenses at center to augment the starry sky and the Bruce Telescope at rear. [Courtesy: Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum]

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has lifted the curtain on the final phase of its extensive renovation, sharing details on the last 12 galleries' names and anticipated opening timeline in Washington, D.C.

Scheduled to debut in spring 2025, the "Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall" and "Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight" galleries will inaugurate this pivotal chapter in the museum's overhaul. Coupled with the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater and the museum entrance on Jefferson Drive, these openings represent a crucial step toward completing the comprehensive renovation, with additional galleries expected to follow suit in a phased approach. The museum aims to welcome visitors to most remaining galleries and public spaces by its 50th anniversary in July 2026, aligning with the United States Semiquincentennial.

The museum's east end, now primed for exhibition installation, will showcase over 1,600 artifacts, a testament to meticulous planning and execution. These artifacts include items that have undergone conservation and restoration processes, bringing them back to life for museum visitors. The upcoming exhibitions, spanning from "At Home in Space" to "World War I: The Birth of Military Aviation," promise an immersive exploration of aviation's rich history.

The renovation initiative involves a comprehensive redesign of all 20 exhibition spaces, an exterior cladding face-lift, and the replacement of outdated mechanical systems. The recent completion of the stone replacement on the building facade in December marked a significant milestone in the ambitious project. 

The first phase of the renovated museum welcomed visitors in October 2022, featuring eight new and reimagined exhibitions, a planetarium, a museum store, and the Mars Café. Visitors can secure free timed-entry passes, which are needed for admission and designed to provide a high-quality, accessible experience for all.

Located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. in Washington, the museum invites visitors to explore its exhibits daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST with the exception of December 25. You can stay updated on the museum's renovation progress and discover more about its offerings by visiting the official website, an interactive hub reflecting its commitment to transparency and engaging the public throughout this transformation.

Amy Wilder is managing editor for Plane & Pilot magazine. She fell in love with airplanes at age 8 when her brother-in-law took her up in a Cessna 172. Pretty soon, Amy's bedroom walls were covered with images of vintage airplanes and she was convinced she'd be a bush pilot in Alaska one day. She became a journalist instead, which is also somewhat impractical—but with fewer bears. Now she's working on her private pilot certificate and ready to be a lifelong student of the art of flying.

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