Air and Space Artifacts to Get New Display in D.C.Posted: April 3, 2014
WASHINGTON — Some of the most iconic artifacts of aviation and space history will be getting an updated display for the 21st century, with the Apollo moon landing as the centerpiece.
“We’re trying to figure out what the museum needs to do to stay in touch. We want to inspire people of all ages to want to know more and to do more.”
— Museum Director J.R. “Jack” Dailey
For the first time since its 1976 opening, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum plans to overhaul its central exhibition showing the milestones of flight. The extensive renovation announced Thursday will be carried out over the next two years with portions of the exhibit closing temporarily over time, said Museum Director J.R. “Jack” Dailey.
Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” aircraft from the first trans-Atlantic flight, John Glenn’s Mercury capsule from his first Earth orbit and an Apollo Lunar Module recalling America’s first moon landing will be among the key pieces to be featured. Such artifacts have made the Air and Space Museum the nation’s most-visited museum, drawing 7 million to 8 million visitors each year.
The project will be funded by the largest corporate donation in the Smithsonian’s history. On Thursday, Boeing announced a $30 million gift to the museum for its exhibits and education programs. The central gallery will be renamed the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. In all, Boeing has donated nearly $60 million to the museum throughout its history, the company said.
The exhibition overhaul also marks the start of a renovation of the entire building through 2020, which will require federal funding. Plans call for adding an observatory on the roof.
Curators plan to reimagine the museum’s largest exhibit with more stories, context and digital interaction.
“This is all part of us moving into the future,” Dailey said. “Times have changed, and there are opportunities for producing exhibitions that weren’t even imagined 38 years ago.”
The current “Milestones of Flight” gallery includes a somewhat random mix of technical marvels, including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules spread out across the floor, the first plane to break the sound barrier and other aircraft hanging above. The exhibit descriptions have not been notably updated since President Gerald Ford opened the museum in 1976, said chief curator Peter Jakab.
Plans for the renovation call for moving the large Lunar Module, a test flight vehicle, into the central exhibit for the first time and showing a progression from earlier space capsules during the space race…read more….
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