Contractors work on installing motorized scaffolding on the Northwest corner of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, July 31, 2019.

Smithsonian begins major overhauls and removals at Air & Space Museum

News Release, Smithsonian Institutes

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s renovation of the building on the National Mall continues with artifact moves and significant changes to the “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.” The North American X-15 will be the first major artifact to be lowered and removed from the museum’s main hall. Visitors will continue to see changes as other artifacts shift and move over the next few months. These adjustments will prepare the space for the construction of a large wall to divide and close the Independence Avenue side of the Hall, the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery and the Albert Einstein Planetarium. Work to construct the floor-to-ceiling wall will begin Oct. 7, at which time the museum’s Independence Avenue entrance will close for approximately two years. The entrance on the National Mall side (Jefferson Drive) will remain open for visitors.

This week, the X-15 (which holds the record for top speed by a crewed aircraft) and the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket will be relocated to the museum’s storage facilities near Dulles Airport.

Construction on the museum’s exterior continues to progress now that artifacts have been removed from the west wing (near 7th Street). The ceremonial first stone will be removed from the exterior on Aug. 21. Scaffolding on the exterior of the museum’s west end will allow for the removal and replacement of the stones and the window walls.

The museum will continue to remain open during construction. Many of the museum’s icons, including Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the 1903 Wright Flyer, Skylab and the Apollo Lunar Module, will remain on display. The flight simulators and IMAX Theater also will remain open. Once galleries in the west end of the building start to reopen, in approximately 2022, closures and construction of the east end of the museum will begin.

To learn more and to keep apprised about the project, visit

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

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