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Smithsonian offers free passes for Air and Space Museum reopening

September 14, 2022

— With just a month left before its long-awaited reopening, you can now claim your space to see the National Air and Space Museum's new and reimagined galleries.

The Smithsonian will begin distributing free, timed-entry passes beginning today (Sept. 14) at noon EDT (1600 GMT).

Closed since the end of March, the Air and Space Museum's flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is now more than halfway through a seven-year, $900 million exterior and interior renovation. On Oct. 14, the museum will debut its first eight completed galleries, as well as reopen its gift shop, Mars Café and upgraded planetarium.

Two of the new and expanded exhibit areas are devoted to space exploration history: the "Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery," featuring Mars rovers and interplanetary probes, and "Destination Moon," which shows how the first astronauts came to walk on the lunar surface.

Other galleries opening on Oct. 14 include: "America by Air," "Early Flight," "Nation of Speed," "One World Connected" and "Thomas W. Haas We All Fly." The 1903 Wright Flyer will also be back on display in the dynamic new "Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age."

Given the expected high demand for entry, the Air and Space Museum will require timed passes for all visitors, at least for the first six weeks. Guests wanting to be among the first inside can reserve up to six free passes for their visit through the museum's website. (Groups of 10 or more people should visit the museum's group reservations page.)

All visitors, regardless of age, must have a pass and though a specific entry time needs to be reserved, the passes do not limit the time visitors can spend in the museum. The building, which is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W., will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, though passes will cut off at 4 p.m. daily for entry.

Beginning on Oct. 14, visitors can gain entry by either showing their digital pass on their mobile device or a paper copy that they print at home.

The museum has set aside a special batch of passes for members of its National Air and Space Society. Directions on how to reserve those tickets will be emailed to society members on Wednesday.

Work continues on other half of the National Air and Space Museum building. The central "Milestones of Flight" hall is targeted to reopen in 2024, with the remaining 14 galleries to follow the next year.


Rendering of the "Destination Moon" gallery opening Oct. 14 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. (Smithsonian)

Map showing the eight galleries, museum store, Mars Cafe and planetarium opening on Oct. 14, 2022 at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian)

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