National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.

Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., United States
Phone: +1 202-633-2214
closed on: Open all days except December 25
Museum Type: Technology / Industry, Transports / Automotive
Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Washington DC exterior 1

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., also known as NASM, is the most important museum in the world dedicated to aviation and human space flight and, with over 7 million visitors in 2018, the most popular museum in the United States.

History and building
The NASM, part of the Smithsonian Institution, is located on the National Mall, close to other major cultural centers and museums.
Opened to the public in 1976, the National Air and Space Museum is housed in an imposing stone-and-glass building designed by American architectural firm HOK.
A major renovation of the museum and of its galleries, scheduled for completion in 2019, is currently ongoing.

Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Washington DC exterior

Exterior view of the National Air and Space Museum on Independence Avenue, Washington D.C. Photo Tim Evanson.

Collection and galleries
The museum displays an outstanding permanent collection presenting aircraft, spacecraft, technical artifacts, models, historical documents, photographs, films, videos, and multimedia installations.

The collection comprises over 60,000 pieces; objects on display include the Wright Flyer, the first actual aircraft ever made, Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of Saint Louis, a Messerschmitt Me 262, a Japanese Zero fighter, the Apollo 11 Command Module, a touchable lunar rock, a Saturn V engine, the X-15 rocket aircraft, a Voyager spacecraft, along with an impressive ensemble of fascinating technical and scientific exhibits.
The permanent exhibition of the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC is divided into 22 thematic and chronological galleries.

First Floor
Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall
America by Air
Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Golden Age of Flight
Jet Aviation
Early Flight
Southwest Airlines Welcome Center
How Things Fly
Looking at Earth
Explore the Universe
Lunar Exploration Vehicles
Moving Beyond Earth
Space Race

Second Floor
Sea-Air Operations
World War II Aviation
Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air
Exploring the Planets
Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery
The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age
Apollo to the Moon
Artist Soldier
Time and Navigation

The museum’s permanent exhibition also includes flight simulators, a telescope, a planetarium, and an IMAX cinema.

Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Washington DC interior

The entrance hall of the National Air and Space Museum. Photo m01229

Program of events
The program of events and activities of the NASM comprises temporary exhibitions, guided tours, science demonstrations, conferences, and workshops for families, schools, teens, and kids.
The National Air and Space Museum building, fully accessible to people with physical disabilities, also contains a gift store and four cafe-restaurants.

Also part of the NASM, the Udvar-Hazy Center is a museum located near the Washington Dulles airport in Chantilly, Virginia, presenting large-scale aircraft and spaceships which, due to their size, are difficult to accommodate in the building in Washington.


Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Washington DC Apollo 11 command module

The Apollo 11 Command Module “Columbia” used by Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins during their 1969 lunar landing mission. Photo Tony Hisgett.

Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Washington DC Bell X-1

The Bell X-1 “Glamorous Glennis”; in 1947, piloted by Charles “Chuck” Yeager, it was the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound (1,127 kilometers / 700 miles per hour). Photo Johnny Comstedt.

Smithsonian National Air Space Museum Washington North American X-15

The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft; in 1959, it reached a speed of Mach 6.72 (4,534 mph) and an altitude of 354,200 feet (over 67 miles), thus becoming the first manned vehicle to fly into outer space. Photo Peter Miller.

Cover image by NCinDC (CC BY-ND 2.0).

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