National Air and Space Museum - Washington, D.C. - Smithsonian Houses Largest Air and Space Museum in the World on National Mall and Virginia Sites
National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution has two locations that receive the public. The older site is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., since 1976. The newer site, the Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia where it opened in late 2003. With 50,000 pieces the Museum has the largest collection of historic spacecraft and aircraft relics on the Earth. More than 9,000 space objects are part of the collection, including moon rocks. Most of the collection is on display.
The Museum also has restoration facilities in Maryland but they are closed to the public since 2003 when the collection previously stored there was moved to the Udvar-Hazy Center.
The Museum not only houses and maintains flight related artifacts but it also generates research around related planetary studies and earth sciences.
Historic aircraft from the early days of flight can be seen on display at the National Mall such as the original plane the Wright Brothers used on man's first successful flight and the flight module from the first manned flight to the moon and back, Apollo 11. Exhibits include Unmanned Military Aerial Vehicles, Milestones of Flight and the Space Race.
At the Virginia facility pieces on display include the Enterprise Space Shuttle within the Human Spaceflight exhibit. Among other exhibits here are found Vertical Flight, with several helicopters on display, Rockets and Missiles and WWII Aviation. An Airport Observation tower allows for views of air traffic at nearby Dulles Airport and also houses exhibits on air traffic control. Paid parking is available at the Virginia facility on Museum grounds. Metrorail or D.C. Metro bus transport can take a visitor as far as Dulles Airport. From there, a Virginia Regional Transit bus can be boarded that stops near the Uvdar-Hazy Center.
For the National Mall facility even private parking garages may be filled, and public street parking is very difficult to find. Several Metro stations are short walks from the Museum but the closest are L'Enfant Plaza where the Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green lines all stop and Smithsonian on the Blue and Orange lines. Both locations are open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day.
Both facilities are wheelchair accessible and disability friendly but special accommodations such as reserving a wheelchair or sign language interpreters require a minimum of 2 weeks notice to guarantee availability.
I-Max Theaters are installed in both facilities. Several films are shown at varied times throughout the day. The National Mall is also home to the Albert Einstein Planetarium. While admission to the Museum facilities is free, tickets must be purchased for attending most I-Max and Planetarium shows. Group discounts are available with advance purchase for groups of 10 or more while groups of 20 can receive discounts on same day purchases.
Visitor Guides are available in 11 languages.
Several free educational programs are available from the National Air and Space Museum for student and youth groups as well as research facilities for in depth studies of planetary sciences.
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