Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in for major renovation

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is in for a big change — starting in three years, the entire facade will be under construction.

Most visitors have seen the IMAX movie “To Fly” a dozen times if they’ve seen it once. It’s part of the experience at the Air and Space museum. But the next time there’s company in town who want to visit, it may have an entirely different look, says Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas.

They’ll tear down the pink Tennessee marble that designers unveiled when the museum opened in 1976. It was meant to match the National Gallery of Art, but unlike the tile used at the gallery, St. Thomas says, it’s too thin and cannot be reused or recycled.

The project could cost up to $500 million, since workers will update the HVAC and mechanical systems too, St. Thomas says.

The museum, which sees more than 8 million visitors a year, will not close. Construction will be done sections at at time, St. Thomas says.

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