Beginning with the loan from Orville to the Science Museum in 1928, the Wright Flyer has always been publicly exhibited hanging. Its many fascinating and intricate details have always been inaccessible to Museum visitors. Since coming to the Smithsonian in 1948, the airplane has been taken down from its hanging display only three times: to move it into the new building in 1976, for the 1984-85 restoration, and for one day in November 2000 during repairs to the skylights in the Milestones of Flight gallery.

The NASM centennial exhibition, The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age, begins a new chapter in the history of this amazing artifact. For the first time, the airplane is displayed on the floor, in its own gallery, with the most extensive presentation on the Wright brothers the Museum has ever offered.

Invention And Icon
We all owe a great deal to the Wright brothers—their airplane changed the world forever. When encountering this amazing machine in person, it is a sight that stirs even the most jaded of onlookers. Through the original artifact it is possible, to a degree, to transcend time and identify with the Wright achievement in a very direct way. The Wright Flyer reflects both the extraordinary accomplishment of two individuals and the enormous potential that resides in all humanity. It is truly an invention and an icon. Seeing it is an experience that should not be missed.
The Flyer as displayed in the Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age exhibition.