National Air And Space Museum to close for at least six months in 2022 Galleries in the museum's west wing will undergo construction starting in March.
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National Air And Space Museum to close for at least six months in 2022

An artist rendering of "Exploring the Planets," one of the new exhibitions planned for the revamped National Air and Space Museum in 2022. Courtesy of/the Smithsonian hide caption

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Courtesy of/the Smithsonian

The National Air and Space Museum will close for at least six months starting in March 2022 while new galleries are under construction in the facility's west wing, the Smithsonian announced Tuesday.

The flagship museum on the National Mall is undergoing a massive $1 billion renovation that began in 2018. Museum officials initially sought to avoid closing the facility while work is underway, but those plans were dashed as the construction project evolved, the museum's acting director told the Washington Post.

Museum representatives said in a statement that the closure is necessary to "ensure the continued safety of visitors."

The west wing is expected to reopen in the fall of 2022 with a slate of new exhibitions that explore our solar system's planets and moons, innovations in high-speed technology, the Wright brothers, and early aviation, among other subjects.

The museum plans to begin work on east wing galleries once the entire facility closes in March. Galleries in the east wing are slated to reopen in 2025.

The National Air and Space Museum is one of the most popular Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, recording 3.2 million total visits in 2019. The only facility that fared better that year was the ever-popular National Museum of Natural History, which counted 4.2 million visits.

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The Smithsonian closed all its museums in D.C. and New York City as the pandemic began to take shape in March 2020. Several reopened the following summer, as the city reopened, but shuttered again in the fall after coronavirus case numbers went on the rise. Museums began to reopen again in May of this year, though two facilities — the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Zoo — continue to require timed-entry passes.

The Air and Space Museum's sister facility in Northern Virginia, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, will operate as normal while the flagship museum is closed. Some artifacts from the D.C. museum will also be on display at other museums during the closure, according to the Smithsonian.

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