clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Smithsonian will renovate iconic space-museum hall for the first time since opening

New, 14 comments

The National Air and Space Museum plans to reimagine and renovate its main hall, "Milestones of Flight," for the first time since the museum opened its doors on July 1st, 1976. The Smithsonian seems to think things are starting to look a bit dated, and aims to revamp its central exhibition — which has attracted more than 310 million visitors — with a 21st century look featuring new themes and displays "suited to today’s visitors." The Milestones space is currently the museum's largest, and it's set to grow even bigger; its square footage will be enlarged, and displays will now take better advantage of its two-story height.

Thankfully there are plans to make the whole thing feel less thrown together, too. Everything contained in the exhibit will now be organized to connect themes that "trace the interconnected stories of the world’s most significant aircraft and spacecraft." Old favorites like the Spirit of St. Louis are sticking around, but future visitors can expect to see additions like the Apollo Lunar Module and a Starship Enterprise model from the original Star Trek TV series — artifacts that were previously found elsewhere in the museum. The Smithsonian is also touting other upcoming additions including a new media wall and display kiosks that will help visitors look up artifacts and connect to "other sources of information."

This is all being done with the help of a $30 million donation from Boeing. As a reward for its generosity, Boeing gets naming rights on the famous exhibition: it will be renamed the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall by the time renovations are complete in 2016. That's an important year for both sides, as it marks the museum's 40th anniversary and Boeing's 100th. Counting its latest donation, Boeing has now contributed more than $64 million to the Smithsonian. $58 million of that has gone to the National Air and Space Museum.