Part of Air and Space Museum to open in October

The nearly finished “Early Flight” exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. “Early Flight” will be on view when the museum’s west end reopens Oct. 14, 2022. (Courtesy National Air and Space Museum)
The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia displayed in the new “Destination Moon” exhibition, opening Oct. 14, 2022. (Courtesy National Air and Space Museum)
View from the ground floor of the Northrop T-38 Talon and the Extra 260 hanging at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Both will be on display when the museum reopens Oct. 14, 2022. (Courtesy National Air and Space Museum)

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will reopen the west end of its D.C. building on Friday, Oct. 14 with both new and renovated exhibitions.

The museum closed at the end of March for a continuation of extensive renovations.

The east end of the museum will open in 2025.

“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.

“When we open the first re-imagined 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.”

The museum started a seven-year renovation in 2018, which included redesigning all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces, refacing the outside of the building, replacing outdated systems and other repairs.

Opening in October in addition to the exhibitions is the planetarium, the museum store and the Mars Cafe.

New artifacts coming to the museum include Jackie Cochrane’s T-38, the plane Cochrane flew when she became the first woman to break the sound barrier; the Sharp DR 90 Nemesis air racer, the most successful aircraft in air racing history, flown by pilot and co-designer Jon Sharp; and Sean Tucker’s custom-built aerobatic biplane, the Aviation Specialties Unlimited Challenger III, according to a news release from the museum.

On loan from Lucasfilm is the full-sized X-Wing Starfighter that appeared in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” That will be displayed for the first time, outside the planetarium.

Because of the anticipation of the reopening, free timed-entry passes will be required to visit when it opens its doors in October.

On Sept. 14, passes will be available on the museum’s website.

Exhibitions Opening Oct. 14:

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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