“Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” Reopens July 1 at Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Press Release

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - 9:00am

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Alison Mitchell, 202-633-2376, mitchellac@si.edu
Nick Partridge, 202-633-2374, partridgen@si.edu

Public Inquiries

202-633-1000

More Information

Museum Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The National Air and Space Museum will reopen the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” July 1 in conjunction with the museum’s 40th anniversary. The two-year renovation of the hall was made possible by a gift from Boeing. Several of the museum’s most iconic artifacts will remain on view, and new ones have been added. The installation will also introduce GO FLIGHT, a digital experience designed to allow visitors to make connections with and between artifacts and to share the national collection beyond the walls of the museum.

A ceremony at 8:30 p.m. will celebrate the anniversary and reopening. “All Night at the Museum” will begin at 9 p.m. and will include activities throughout the night concluding at 10 a.m. July 2. To learn more, visit http://airandspace.si.edu/events/40th-birthday/.

Since the building opened on the National Mall in 1976, the “Milestones of Flight Hall” has welcomed 327 million visitors. Positioned between the museum’s two entrances, the 19,000-square-foot exhibition space had remained largely unaltered since the building’s opening. The new installation features a streamlined, modern look with visitor-friendly amenities, such as a large Welcome Center. It is designed to introduce visitors to key artifacts which, in turn, enable them to learn more about the museum’s renowned collection and ongoing research. The in-depth interpretation of the artifacts and the addition of new digital elements will serve as a model for future exhibitions as the museum prepares to launch into a period of revitalization.

“The new ‘Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall’ will give visitors a richer experience,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum. “By experiencing more detailed displays and digital technology, visitors will walk away with a deeper understanding of how spaceflight and aviation have affected their lives. This approach will guide the plans we have for transforming the building, inside and out, over the next several years.”

All artifacts in the “Milestones of Flight Hall” have had a significant cultural, historic, scientific or technological impact. The stunning Apollo Lunar Module, previously displayed in another gallery, will serve as the centerpiece of the exhibition. Spacecraft such as John Glenn’s Mercury “Friendship 7” will return to the space, along with the Viking Lander, Gemini IV capsule, SpaceShipOne and Mariner 2. A new addition will be the Discoverer XIII satellite re-entry capsule, the first human-made object to be recovered from orbit. Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” and Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 will return to the hall, to be exhibited near the massive wind-tunnel fan used by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NACA (predecessor to NASA) and 18th- and 19th-century ballooning artifacts. The exhibition’s emphasis on technology will be represented by objects such as a Turbojet Engine developed by Sir Frank Whittle between 1939 and 1941 and the backup craft to Telstar I, the world’s first active communications satellite. The studio model of the Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series will be a new addition to the hall, after undergoing a nearly two-year restoration.

The GO FLIGHT digital experience is designed to connect visitors quickly and easily to other resources within the museum and enable them to obtain information on artifacts beyond what can fit on an exhibition label. Three components make up the experience—a 16-by-12-foot interactive wall in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall,” a mobile app and a redesigned museum website. Whether onsite or online, users can use the technology to designate “favorite” artifacts, allowing them to design personalized tours of the museum and explore little-known connections with other items in the collection. Users will also have the opportunity to follow topics of their choice and receive regular notifications when new material on those subjects becomes available. A key component of the experience is the ability for users to share their own stories within the app and on the website.

GO FLIGHT will launch July 1 with the reopening of the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.” Follow updates about “Milestones” on social media using #airandspace40 and #MilestonesofFlight.

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which opened in 2003, is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

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View all images in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall image gallery

  • The newly renovated Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

    The Apollo Lunar Module displayed as a centerpiece below the “Spirit of St. Louis” in the newly renovated Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.

  • The Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

    View of the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall with Viking Lander in the foreground.

  • SpaceShipOne and Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis”

    With SpaceShipOne, private enterprise crossed the threshold into human spaceflight, previously the domain of government programs. Bell X-1 became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound in 1947. Both crafts are on display in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

  • Interactive Wall

    The interactive wall is part of the National Air and Space Museum’s new GO FLIGHT digital experience. Visitors to the museum in Washington, DC, will interact with the wall in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.” It will allow them to more easily find the artifacts they want to see during their visit.

  • Interactive Wall

    The 16-by-12-foot interactive wall is part of the National Air and Space Museum’s new GO FLIGHT digital experience. Visitors to the museum in Washington, DC, will interact with the wall in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.” It will allow them to more easily find the artifacts they want to see during their visit.

  • Mercury “Friendship 7” and Gemini IV

    Mercury “Friendship 7,” pictured right, was the spacecraft in which astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth. Gemini IV, pictured left, was the second of 10 manned Gemini missions, which perfected the techniques of spacecraft rendezvous and docking and demonstrated that astronauts could withstand prolonged weightlessness for the planned Apollo missions to the Moon. Both crafts are on display in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

  • Studio Model of Starship Enterprise

    The studio model of the Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series underwent an extensive restoration, which was completed in May 2016, and is now on view in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

  • Studio Model of Starship Enterprise

    The studio model of the Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series underwent an extensive restoration, which was completed in May 2016, and is now on view in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

  • Studio Model of Starship Enterprise

    The studio model of the starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series underwent an extensive restoration, which was completed in May 2016, and is now on view in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. 

  • Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis”

    On May 21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh completed the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in history, flying his Ryan NYP "Spirit of St. Louis" 5,810 kilometers (3,610 miles) between Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York, and Paris, France, in 33 hours, 30 minutes. The “Spirit of St. Louis” is displayed in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

  • Telstar 1

    Launched on July 10, 1962, Telstar 1, developed by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), was the world's first active communications satellite. AT&T used the satellite to test basic features of communications via space. It is now on display at the museum in Washington, DC, in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.”

  • Wooden valve assembly

    Wooden valve assembly from T.S.C. Lowe's gas balloon "City of New York" (later renamed the "Great Western"); 1859

  • Sally Ride’s Flight Jacket

    This flight jacket belonged to Dr. Sally K. Ride, who became the first American woman in space when she flew on the STS-7 shuttle mission in 1983.

  • Bell XP-59A Airacomet

    The Bell XP-59A Airacomet on display in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” at the Museum in Washington, DC.

  • North American X-15

    North American X-15 on display in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall” at the Museum in Washington, DC. The X-15 was the first winged aircraft to attain hypersonic velocities of Mach 4, 5 and 6 (four to six times the speed of sound) and to operate at altitudes well above 30,500 meters (100,000 feet).

  • Junkers Jumo 004 B4 Turbojet Engine and Whittle W1X Engine

    The Jumo 004 B4 Turbojet Engine was the world’s first mass-produced, operational turbojet engine. The Whittle W1X Engine was the first British turbojet to be airborne.

  • NACA Wind Tunnel Fan

    This full-scale wind tunnel fan was one of a pair built by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the predecessor to NASA) in 1931 and used at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA to test aircraft and spacecraft. It is now on display at the museum in Washington, DC, in the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.” 

  • Exterior of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

    The National Air and Space Museum’s flagship building as seen from the National Mall in Washington, DC.

  • Opening of National Air and Space Museum July 1, 1976

    Chief Justice Warren Burger, far left, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, second from left, join President Gerald Ford, center, National Air and Space Museum Director Michael Collins, next to Ford, and Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley in applause after a signal from Viking 1, orbiting Mars, triggers the ribbon cutting at the opening of the museum's building on the National Mall, July 1, 1976.

  • Opening of National Air and Space Museum July 1, 1976

    President Gerald Ford gives remarks at the opening ceremony of the National Air and Space Museum's building on the National Mall, July 1, 1976.

  • Welcome Desk in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

    Museum volunteers assist visitors at the new welcome desk in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.