Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Spotlight

Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There

Time and Navigation Exhibition
This working clock appears at the entrance of the Time and Navigation exhibition.

A new permanent exhibition, Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There, opened April 12. It explores how revolutions in timekeeping over three centuries have influenced how people find their way. The project is a collaboration between the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History.

The exhibition's underlying theme is, "if you want to know where you are, you need an accurate clock," and the exhibition features a broad array of timekeeping devices. Also on display are navigation devices used on nineteenth century ships, World War II aircraft, submarines, and spacecraft. Also highlighted are applications and devices used by people living and working all across the world, such as GPS. Methods are traced through the decades to show that of all the issues facing navigation, one challenge stands out: the need to determine accurate time.

The gallery spans three centuries of efforts to travel on Earth and through the solar system. Examples of "navigation gone wrong" are featured in each of five sections: Navigating at Sea, Navigating in the Air, Navigating in Space, Inventing Satellite Navigation, and Navigation for Everyone.

Time and Navigation was made possible by the generous support of Northrop Grumman Corporation; Exelis Inc.; Honeywell; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; U.S. Department of Transportation; Magellan GPS; National Coordination Office for Space-based Positioning, Navigation & Timing; Rockwell Collins; and the Institute of Navigation.