The Smithsonian controlled museum maintains the largest and most comprehensive collection of aviation and space artifacts, covering the many aspects of human flight, as well as many pieces of related art. The museum operates two landmark facilities that welcome as many as 8 million visitors each year, which make it the most visited museum in the US.
The museum features two buildings that maintain thousands of artifacts which are showcased in exhibitions on space exploration, aviation, and planetary science. At either of the locations, guests can find many programs, lectures, performance, and education activities that represent the history, technology, and science of flight.
The Washington, DC museum was officially opened in 1976 and is located in the heart of the Smithsonian complex. Here, guests can marvel at some of the most awe-inspiring icons of flight. The Chantilly, Virginia based Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a massive museum with a hangar-like feel which can support many large space crafts and aircrafts. This site also contains the entire collection of space artifacts and aviation.
The National Air and Space Museum is the largest of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and the Center for Earth and Planetary studies, which also serves as one of the Smithsonian’s 9 research centers.
There are more than 60,000 objects in the Museum’s collection which range in size from small microchips all the way up to Jetliners and Saturn V Rockets. More than 33% of the aircraft and spacecraft in the collection are one-of-a-kind pieces or they have been associated with a major milestone in flight.
The museum’s archives houses more than 12 thousand cubic feet of documents that record “flights” history, technology, and science. The museum also holds more than 14,000 film and video titles and more than 1.75 million photographs in the most complete collection of aviation and space images.
The museum in Washington, DC features 21 exhibit galleries, which include exhibits on the history of astronomy, the world wars, the Wright Brothers, the Apollo Space Program, and an exhibit on the relationship between time and navigation.
At the Udvar-Hazy Center, there are 3 connecting hangars that hold hundreds of aviation and space artifacts, which include the Space Shuttle Discovery; Charles Lindbergh memorabilia; astronaut gear and equipment; the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress; and a NASA android.
The National Air and Space Museum hosts numerous lectures, family days, and special events that feature aviation and space pioneers, including scientists, astronauts, and pilots. Many of the exhibits have been put online, with most of the lectures being broadcast online. The Public Observatory often streams live images of the Sun.