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How Transformation Happens

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THE MISSION:

Over the seven-year project, we will reimagine all 23 galleries and presentation spaces in our iconic National Mall building in Washington, DC, to inspire a new generation of pioneers and explorers.

The goal

Building on a commitment from Congress, we will raise $250 million from leaders in the aerospace industry and people like you to dramatically transform our exhibitions and renovate the entire Museum, inside and out.

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Mission Stats

The transformation of the Museum represents an unprecedented moment in the conservation and preservation of thousands of artifacts, as well as a remarkable evolution of the Museum’s immersive learning experience.

Take a Look Behind the Scenes

23 galleries being completely reimagined for immersive learning

5,200+ artifacts moved and preserved

1,400 new objects on display

07 years devoted to transforming the world’s most popular museum

Got a question?

Here are answers to the questions most visitors have. 

Don't see an answer to your question? Ask us at NASM-VisitorServices@si.edu

What is the transformation?

Over the course of several years, we will radically transform our National Mall building, all 23 galleries and presentation spaces, and the way we engage the world in humankind's greatest story: flight.
 
The Museum will remain open throughout the project, with phased closures and openings of our galleries, as well as our shops, theaters, and cafe.

Why is this happening now?

The National Mall building needs our attention. Since opening in 1976, the flagship location has welcomed more than 350 million people—that’s more than the population of the United States—which makes for some serious wear and tear, inside and out.

What parts of the Museum will be affected?

There will be significant renovation of the building's exterior and the underlying infrastructure, and all 23 galleries – some of which are original to the building – will be transformed. Portions of the Museum will be closed on a rolling basis, but there will always be areas open to visitors and artifacts on display.

Why is it changing? It’s already a great museum.

We agree! And so do the millions of visitors who make the Museum one of the most popular in the world. The heart of the Museum will always be our unrivaled collection of aircraft and spacecraft, one-third of which are one of a kind or represent a major milestone. The reimagined Museum will still feature the artifacts you know and love, but our exhibitions need to be updated and modernized to help us inspire 21st century audiences.

What will happen to my favorite exhibits and artifacts?

By the time the transformation is complete, every artifact will have undergone conservation efforts. Iconic objects will return alongside many artifacts that have never been displayed. The new exhibit spaces will give visitors new ways to engage with history and trace its impact today and tomorrow.

When is this happening?

Work is already underway. The seven-year project kicked off in December 2018, and will take place in two major phases.

How will this impact my visit?

While sections of the Museum will be closed for construction over the years, the Museum will remain open to the public, and our year-round programming for kids, educators, and aerospace enthusiasts will continue. 

How can I get involved?

Every gift to the Museum brings us one step closer to our $250 million fundraising goal. Donate, become a member, or place your name on the Wall of Honor to be recognized among others who share a commitment to preserving aerospace history to educate and inspire the next generation.

Donate, become a member, or place your name on the Wall of Honor

How can I keep track of progress?

We will be sharing stories, behind-the-scenes videos, and photos throughout the project. Follow us on social media, or get the latest news and schedules straight to your inbox by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

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Learn More

The Experience

With this transformation, we will create new spaces for wonder, discovery, and STEAM learning for millions of visitors from around the world. An experience at the National Air and Space Museum will become a launch pad for a lifetime of exploration. These renderings hint at the exciting changes to come and represent the first eight galleries to be reimagined.

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    Exploring the Planets

    The Exploring the Planets exhibition will probe the science and history of our understanding of planets and moons. The exhibition will be arranged around dynamic, immersive audiovisual experiences to simulate different planetary landscapes and present visitors a view of standing on other planets.

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    Destination Moon

    The Destination Moon exhibition will explore the extraordinary combination of motivations, resources, and technologies that made it possible for humans to go to the Moon. The exhibition’s highlights will include the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, and a Saturn V engine.

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    One World Connected

    The One World Connected exhibition will tell the story of how flight fostered two momentous changes in everyday life: the ease in making connections across vast distances and a new perspective of Earth as humanity’s home. Featuring an array of satellites, the exhibit will ask visitors to consider how global interconnection touches their lives and imagine how advances in technology might impact our future. 

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    Early Flight

    Between the first flights at Kitty Hawk and the opening guns of WWI, the design and construction of aircraft and engines became a global industrial enterprise. The Early Flight exhibition will use artifacts such as the 1909 Wright Military Flyer and the Blériot XI to explore the impact of the airplane on politics and international relations. Mechanical interactives will allow visitors to operate different types of control systems and interact with digital representations of early aviation pioneers. 

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    Thomas W. Haas We All Fly

    The Thomas W. Haas We All Fly gallery will celebrate how the availability of different types of aircraft made it possible for a wide range of people to fly. The exhibition will take visitors through the many different forms of general aviation from aerobatics and air racing to gliders and ultralights to business aviation to agriculture and firefighting. Interactive elements will put visitors in the cockpit. 

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    Nation of Speed

    The Nation of Speed exhibition will recount humankind’s desire to become the fastest on land, sea, air, and space in the pursuit of commerce, power, and prestige. This new gallery will be a portrait of human ingenuity and will explore how the pursuit of speed has shaped American culture and our national identity.

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    The Wright Brothers

    The Wright Brothers exhibition will provide visitors unprecedented access to the iconic 1903 Wright Flyer while unraveling the story of invention and innovation.

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    America by Air

    America by Air explores the history of air transportation in America and the ways that improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel. This rendering shows a revamped approach to the Museum’s commercial aviation gallery.