The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum hasn’t been open much since the pandemic started, but it’s already poised to shut its doors again — if for more positive reasons. The Washington Postreports the Smithsonian is closing its flagship National Mall building for at least six months of renovations starting March 28th, 2022. The move will maintain the “continued safety” of visitors while the museum finishes work on its first new west wing galleries.
The closure is part of the first phase of a seven-year renovation poised to cost over $1 billion. The Smithsonian is staggering closures to keep at least some physical museum spaces open during that period, including the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia (which will remain open). Some parts of the collection have relocated to other relevant museums in the meantime, such as the Museum of African American History and Culture, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian.
The wait could be worthwhile. Eight west wing exhibits should launch when the main museum reopens, including “One World Connected” (shown above) and spaces touching on the Wright brothers, planetary exploration and the Moon.
Some parts of the renovation are still far from completion. The museum will start “deinstallation” of the east wing in March and won’t complete its upgrade until sometime in 2025. If you can live with those limitations, though, the Air and Space Museum may soon be more relevant and engaging than in the past — even if you’ve visited relatively recently.