Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building reopens for the ‘Future’ exhibit

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building is reopening to the public later this month — and it will give visitors a glimpse into the future.

It’s part of the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary celebration. The building — located on the National Mall next to the Castle — will host a new exhibit called “Futures.”

The groundbreaking exhibit will be spread across nearly 32,000 square feet and combine art, interactive features, inventions and speculative designs. The Smithsonian calls them “artifacts into the future.”

Nearly 150 objects are expected to be on view in the four different halls, titled “Past Futures,” “Futures that Inspire,” “Futures that Unite” and “Futures that Work.”

Engineering feats on display will include a Loon internet balloon, an AI-driven rover, a Planetary Society space sail for deep space travel and even the world’s first controlled nuclear fusion machine.

They will also feature artwork based on intelligent technology, new ways to plan and build cities and designs for exosuits and underwater homes.

And in the world of future travel, you’ll be able to see Virgin’s Hyperloop “Pegasus” pod and Bell’s Nexus “Air Taxi.”

Last month, the Smithsonian announced that an interactive feature called “Futures Beacons” will also play a pivotal role in the exhibit.

In a statement, the Smithsonian said the installation “will infuse the entire exhibition with a playful layer of digital storytelling” and give visitors an opportunity to create and see their own future.

The Arts and Industries Building originally opened in 1881 as the country’s first U.S. National Museum. It remained in use until 2004, when it was closed because of structural concerns.

“Futures” will launch Nov. 19 with a virtual event featuring Bill Nye. Doors open the next day. The exhibit will run through July 6.

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