WASHINGTON– Attention air and space fans traveling to DC: your wait will soon be over.
From historic first flight to futuristic planet exploration, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington will open eight revised exhibits on Friday, Oct. 14, CNN reported.
And if you want to be one of the first people to visit, be prepared to act fast.
Timed passes will be required and they will be available online starting Wednesday, September 14, according to a Smithsonian press release. Admission will be free.
About half of the flagship building will reopen. In addition to the eight updated exhibits, the planetarium, museum shop and Mars Café will open, according to the release.
The project began with the first gallery closings in late 2018, a museum representative told CNN Travel. Parts of the museum remained open to the public during the project until April 2022, when it was closed entirely to complete the new west end galleries. The seven-year project is expected to cost about $1 billion in total, the Smithsonian representative said.
The entire renovation “includes the redesign of all 23 exhibition and presentation spaces, the complete resurfacing of the exterior cladding” and other improvements, according to the press release.
“This is one of the most exciting times in the history of the National Air and Space Museum,” Chris Browne, director of the John and Adrienne Mars Museum, said in another press release. Smithsonian.
“When we open the first reimagined galleries, we hope all visitors will be inspired by the artifacts on display for the first time, favorite aerospace icons presented in new ways, and the diverse storytelling.”
Below a Q&A on how it will work, according to the Smithsonian.
What’s the time for that?
The link to reserve an hour is now online. You can find it on the museum’s website.
The September 14 release will allow people to get passes from Oc. From November 14 to 30. Then, starting October 28, people can sign up for passes from December 1 through January 14. There will be two additional releases on December 16 and January 27.
Are only advance tickets available?
No. In addition to pre-issued tickets, a limited number of same-day passes will be released each day at 8:30 a.m. ET beginning October 14.
“A person will be able to reserve up to six passes per day for a specific entry time,” the press release reads. “Every visitor should have a pass, regardless of age. To enter the museums, visitors can present their digital pass on their mobile device or a copy of their printed pass at home.”
What’s in these 8 galleries?
The Smithsonian told CNN Travel that some of the most anticipated highlights include the “Destination Moon” exhibit, which will feature the Apollo 11 command module alongside Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. It will also include an F-1 engine and Alan Shepard’s Mercury spacesuit and Mercury Freedom 7 capsule.
The “Nation of Speed” exhibit is new to the museum and will include air and space artifacts and loaner artifacts such as Mario Andretti’s Indy 500-winning race car and Evel Knievel’s motorcycle.
Learn more about the eight spaces:
“America by Air”: This exhibit reviews the history of American air travel, and new exhibits will include a 1920s agricultural spreader.
“Destination Moon”: The museum promises a “successful” exhibition based on its collection of artifacts from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
“Early Flight”: This covers the period from the first flights of the Wright Brothers in 1903 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when aviation was still new and exciting.
“Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Gallery of Planets”: Find out how we explore our other planets (and their intriguing moons) in the solar system here.
“Speed Nation”: This exhibition will be a quick lesson in our obsession with being the fastest, not only in the air and in space, but also on land and at sea.
“A Connected World”: Here you will learn how aviation, spaceflight and satellites have truly made us “one world”.
“Thomas W. Haas, We All Fly”: This gallery “will explore the many facets of general aviation, from sport to business”.
“Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age”: Immerse yourself in the world of Wilbur and Orville Wright and their revolutionary invention.
All other galleries will remain closed, the museum’s website says.
How can I get there?
The museum is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue SW on the National Mall. If you drive there, there are several commercial lots within walking distance. You can use ParkWhiz to reserve a spot.
The nearest metro stop is at L’Enfant Plaza. Nearby Metrobus stops are on Independence Avenue SW and along 7th Street SW. Click here to learn more about transit options.
Do I have another aviation museum option in the area?
Yes. If your trip to DC is before October 14 or if you just can’t get a timed pass online, the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., near the Washington Dulles International Airport, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. :30h except Christmas Day. Admission is free, but there is a $15 parking fee.
It displays thousands of artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and a Concorde – more than enough to scratch your aviation itch.
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