Behind the Scenes at Our Open House

Posted on Mon, March 26, 2018

What goes into running America’s favorite museum? (Spoiler: a lot!) See what goes on behind-the-scenes at the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Open House at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. You’ll see our Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, our Collections storage spaces, and our Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory—with some special sneak-peeks into our transformation project, beginning this summer. Here’s some of what you’ll see when we open up the hangar doors:


Artist rendering of the America by Air exhibition.

  1. See what’s coming to the reimagined National Air and Space Museum: We have a bold new vision for the National Air and Space Museum. Now, you can see how that vision is becoming a reality. We’re sharing some artist renderings of our new, redesigned nine galleries. We’re also opening up our Mary Banker Engen Restoration Hangar for you to explore; one of the projects you’ll see our restoration staff working on is the Lincoln-Standard H.S. aircraft, which will be part of the new America by Air gallery.  
    Martin B-26B Marauder Flak-Bait

    The front fuselage of Flak-Bait as it was on display inside the National Air and Space Museum World War II Aviation exhbition. Flak-Bait served with the 449th Bombardment Squadron, 322nd Bombardment Group, Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. This famous B-26 flew from bases in England and, after D-Day (on which it flew two missions), from bases in France and Belgium.

  2. Explore a record-breaking piece of history: The Museum's Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder Flak-Bait survived over 200 missions, more than any other American aircraft during World War II. Flak-Bait bears the marks of its remarkable service, with holes from combat, chipped paint, and dents. The Museum has been undergoing a major preservation project with Flak-Bait since 2014. Now, you can see that process up-close, as we work toward fully assembling Flak-Bait for the first time since the end of WWII.
    Two conservators work in the lab.

    Conservators work in the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory at the Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. 

  3. Discover the science behind conservation: Chemistry, microscopes, lasers, and 3-D scanning—it’s all part of a day in the life of a Museum conservator! Explore our Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory to learn more about the science behind artifact preservation. You’ll even see a primate space capsule that’s being worked on by our conservators today.
    Jerrie Cobb

    Full length view of Jerrie Cobb posed standing beside a display model of a Mercury capsule; circa 1963.


  4. Dig into aerospace history: With papers, photos, film, and over 2 million technical drawings in its collections, the National Air and Space Museum Archives help tell the story of flight from ancient times to present day. Now, you can get a peek into our (many, many) files. Among them will be our collection documenting the pioneering career of Jerrie Cobb, the first woman to complete the astronaut testing program and a long-serving humanitarian pilot. You’ll also see things like a World War I scrapbook, Pan American Clipper ephemera from WWII, and items related to Nick Piantanida’s high-altitude parachute jumps.

    Artistic Rendering

    One World Connected  tells the story of how aviation and spaceflight fostered two intertwined, momentous changes in everyday life. One is the acceleration and ease in making connections across distances, enabling people, things, ideas, and images to move and intermingle in unprecedented. The other is a new perspective, enabled by the space age, of Earth as humanity’s home, who’s fate is inseparable from human actions and choices.

    Learn more about how we're reimagining the National Air and Space Museum. 

  5. Learn how our exhibits are designed: How do your favorite exhibitions at the Udvar-Hazy Center and our Museum in Washington, DC, come to life? You can find out with workshops and demonstrations from our design team. It’s a process that’s happening at the Museum right now, as we redesign and renovate our first nine galleries for the reimagined Museum! Get a sneak peek at what’s to come and even test out some interactives that are in the works for our new exhibitions.

Join us for our annual Open House event at our Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, on March 28 from 12-7 pm. Access to the behind the scenes experiences begins in the Restoration Hangar, and last entry will be at 6:15 pm.