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National Air and Space Museum
PO Box 37012, MRC 321 | Washington, DC 20013
Director: Ellen Stofan
Total Full-Time Employees: 279
Annual Budget (federal and trust) FY 2016: $39.9 million
Approximate Number of Artifacts/Specimens: 68,378
Visitors (2017): 8.6 million (National Mall building and Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.)
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is one of the world’s most popular museums with more than 8.6 million visitors in 2017. Its mission is to commemorate, educate and inspire visitors by preserving and displaying aeronautical and spaceflight artifacts. The museum maintains the world’s largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft among more than 68,000 objects and serves the public through exhibitions, public programs, educational activities, publications and electronic outreach. It is also a vital center for historical research on aviation and spaceflight and related science and technology, and home to the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, which performs original research and outreach activities in planetary sciences.
The museum has two public display facilities. The flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which opened in July 1976, houses many of the icons of flight, including the original 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1, John Glenn’s Friendship 7 spacecraft and a lunar rock sample that visitors can touch. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Va., opened in December 2003 and houses many more artifacts in an open, hangar-like setting, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, the Dash 80 prototype for the Boeing 707, the sole-surviving Boeing 307 Stratoliner and space shuttle Discovery.
Research and Collections
- Aeronautics Department
- Space History Department
- Center for Earth and Planetary Studies
- Collections Department
Exhibitions and Galleries
- “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall”
- “Early Flight”
- “The Wright Brothers and The Invention of the Aerial Age”
- “Golden Age of Flight”
- “How Things Fly”
- “Exploring the Planets”
- “Explore the Universe”
- “World War II Aviation”
- “Space Race”
- “Apollo to the Moon”
- “Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery”
- “America by Air”
- “Time and Navigation”
- “Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)”
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Unlike the Mall building, which features traditional exhibitions, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center houses artifacts in an enhanced open-storage design filling two huge connecting structures: the Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. There are 2,700 aviation, 1,065 space, and 44 art objects on display. Attractions include the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, the Airbus IMAX Theater and the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar.
About the Museum
The National Air and Space Museum’s Mall building is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., off of Route 28 near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Closed Dec. 25.) Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center before 4 p.m. Both the museum in Washington and the Udvar-Hazy Center often observe extended hours during the spring and summer, check the website for details.