Collins, however, has been more than a lunar-mission astronaut—his recognition by the NAA was founded at least as much on his efforts to bring the National Air & Space Museum to fruition, both as its first director, but also securing the political will through actual appropriations to get the museum funded. The U.S. Congress had endorsed the creation of a “National Air Museum” in 1946, but had not allocated the funds to build it. Collins lobbied tirelessly for those funds in order to make the proposed opening date of July 4, 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. Under his leadership, the museum opened on July 1 that year, beating the deadline. The museum hosted one million visitors in the first month, and 10 million in the first year, and has consistently been among the most popular attractions in Washington, D.C. ever since.