The Apollo 11 Command Module in the “Destination Moon” gallery at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, in Washington, DC, July 28, 2022. Smithsonian photo by Jim Preston.

By Southwester Staff 

After embarking on a large-scale renovation project in 2018, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will reopen half of its flagship building on the National Mall Friday, October 14. Eight new and renovated exhibitions, the planetarium, museum store and Mars Café will open on the building’s west end.

“This is one of the most exciting times in the National Air and Space Museum’s history,” said Chris Browne, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the museum in a news release. “When we open the first reimagined galleries, we hope all visitors are inspired by artifacts on display for the first time, favorite icons of aerospace presented in new ways and diverse storytelling.”

When the museum reopens its doors, exhibitions such as “America by Air,” “Destination Moon,” and “Early Flight” will highlight historic moments and objects in the museum’s collection. In addition, new features include the “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery,” where visitors can take a virtual tour of the solar system and learn what it would be like to walk on another world through an immersive, interactive experience.

The renovated museum will feature hundreds of new artifacts, including Jackie Cochran’s T-38, the plane Cochrane flew when she became the first woman to break the sound barrier. The full-sized X-Wing Starfighter that appeared in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, on loan from Lucasfilm, will also be displayed for the first time. 

Free timed-entry passes will be required to visit the reopened museum, and will be available on the museum’s website beginning September 14. 

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