The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum maintains the world's largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts, encompassing all aspects of human flight, as well as related works of art and archival materials. It operates two landmark facilities that, together, welcome more than eight million visitors a year, making it the most visited museum in the country. It also is home to the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.
One Museum, Two Locations
The Museum's two buildings house thousands of artifacts showcased in exhibitions on aviation, space exploration, and planetary science. At both of its locations, the Museum presents programs, educational activities, lectures, and performances that reflect the American spirit, and the innovation, courage, and optimism that have led to triumphs in the history, science and technology of flight. At the Museum in Washington, DC, which opened in 1976 and is located in the heart of the Smithsonian complex in Washington, DC, some of the most awe-inspiring icons of flight are on display. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, is a massive structure with open, hangar-like settings that accommodate large aircraft and spacecraft, as well as entire collections of aviation and space artifacts.
Mission: "Commemorate, Educate, Inspire"
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum collects, preserves, studies, and exhibits artifacts, archival materials, and works of art related to the history, culture, and science of aviation and spaceflight and the study of the universe. Its research and outreach activities serve all audiences, within and beyond its walls. The Museum commemorates the past and is committed to educating and inspiring people to foster appreciation for the importance of flight to humanity.
Vision: "Transforming the National Air and Space Museum for the future"
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum will assess and improve our programs, processes, and tools; revitalize our facilities and refresh our exhibitions to better engage and educate the public; preserve and share our collections; and perform original research in planetary science and the history of aviation and spaceflight.
Organization and People
The National Air and Space Museum is the largest of 19 museums included in the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum's Director is assisted by three Associate Directors, who oversee Research and Curatorial Affairs; Management and Public Programs; and External Affairs.
The Smithsonian's aeronautical collection began in 1876 when a group of kites was acquired from the Chinese Imperial Commission.
Facts and Figures
The National Air and Space Museum welcomes on average eight million people annually, making it the most visited museum complex in the country.
Read a yearly review of what goes on at the Museum, beginning in 2009.