First, the good news: The National Air and Space Museum is getting new galleries in the west wing of the flagship building in Washington.
And the bad news: The museum will close its doors for most of the spring and summer next year to get the work done.
The museum, located on the National Mall, has been undergoing major renovations for more than three years. But in order to complete the work on the west wing, museum officials decided it would not be safe for visitors to be roaming the halls.
“There was so much unknown about the complexity of the project, the scope of the project, the phasing,” acting director Chris Browne told the Washington Post. “We learned a lot more along the way.”
The museum will officially close its doors on March 28, 2022, with plans to reopen in the fall. The west-end galleries will all open at the same time, giving visitors a full experience at reopening.
“We can’t wait to unveil our new galleries next year, including updates to favorites on planetary exploration and the Wright brothers, and brand-new galleries like Nation of Speed and One World Connected,” the museum posted on its Twitter page.
“We are endeavoring to open it as soon as we can, with all-new gallery spaces and many new artifacts,” Browne said.
While the main museum will be closed, the companion facility in Chantilly, Virginia, will remain open as usual with regular visiting hours and events. The museum will also have virtual events and a plethora of information online.
When the renovations are complete, the fall 2022 exhibitions will include America By Air, The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age, Nation of Speed, Thomas W. Haas We All Fly, One World Connected, Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery, Destination Moon, and Early Flight.
The Albert Einstein Planetarium and museum store will also reopen in the fall.
Once the west wing reopens in the fall, the second half of renovations will begin with the uninstallation of the east wing of the building. The completion of that project, along with the reopening of all remaining exhibitions, is slated for sometime in 2025.
In addition to the companion facility in Virginia, many of the items normally found at the Air and Space Museum will be relocated to other Smithsonian facilities. These include several meteorites at the National Museum of Natural History, and individual items at the National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History, and the Arts and Industries Building.
More travel news can be found on TravelAwaits. And, of course, plenty on the Smithsonian: