On October 3, 2018, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC announced that the National Air and Space Museum will launch its $1 billion, 7-year renovation of its original building on the National Mall before the end of the year.
The revitalization will include the building’s exterior and infrastructure, as well as the transformation of all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces. Though the museum will remain open, phased gallery closures will begin December 3 with the closure of the “Apollo to the Moon” and “Looking at Earth” exhibitions. Several additional galleries will close in January 2019.
For the first few years, some of the most popular artifacts will remain on display, including the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the 1903 Wright Flyer, Bell X-1, the Apollo Lunar Module and Skylab. The first set of galleries are scheduled to reopen in 2022.
In January, seven exhibitions—“America by Air,” “Sea-Air Operations,” “Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” “Golden Age of Flight,” “World War II Aviation,” “Jet Aviation” and “Legend, Memory and the Great War in the Air” will close. Some of artifacts that will go off display with these closures include the Douglas DC-3, Boeing 747 nose, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII and the Hughes H1 Racer. The virtual reality and flight simulators will also close temporarily until they are moved to the east end of the building.
The renovation will refresh some exhibitions but retain their current themes; others will be completely replaced. To safeguard artifacts during construction, most will be moved to a new state-of-the-art collections storage facility at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near the Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.
The building will undergo complete refacing of the exterior cladding, replacement of outdated mechanical systems and other repairs and improvements. The Smithsonian has contracted Clark/Smoot/Consigli for these renovations and artifact moves. Detailed information about the effects construction will have on the public will be released in advance of the changes.
The National Air and Space Museum revitalization is Clark’s 16th project for the Smithsonian. Most recently, Clark – in a partnership with Smoot –was the contractor for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September 2016.
“Clark is excited to continue our successful partnership with the Smithsonian,” said Jared Oldroyd, Clark’s Vice President overseeing the renovation project. “We take great pride in delivering monumental projects that inspire millions of visitors per year. We are honored to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to restore a national treasure for the enjoyment of future generations.”
“The National Air and Space Museum is both a national landmark and a signature project for our company,” said Matthew Consigli, President of Consigli Construction Co., Inc. “We strive to work on projects that can have a significant impact on their communities. We are excited to work to restore the museum’s style and beauty.” Consigli has restored a number of museums including the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The Smithsonian estimates the total cost of the building revitalization will be $650 million, funded through Congressional appropriations. In addition, the museum will raise the $250 million it needs for new exhibitions through private sources.
Featured image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.