The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. In addition, it is an important academic hub for inquiry into the development and science of aviation and interplanetary exploration, as well as earth science, geology and physics. The Museum has two display facilities: the National Mall building in downtown Washington, DC and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. The museum runs a shuttle bus called the Express, which will take you between them. During your DC vacation, make sure to include them both in your exploration of museums in DC.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The National Mall Building in Washington DC has hundreds of artifacts on display, including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample that visitors can touch. In recent years, exhibits have become very hands-on, with the addition of flight simulators in both locations; armchair pilots can now see what flying a plane is really like. Countless other items - among them space photos and art, rockets and engines, space wardrobes, and written historical materials - capture the complexity of the history of flight, at home and around the world. When you visit DC remember that docent tours, daily free educational programs, and school group tours and activities are also available.
The Albert Einstein Planetarium at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum offers an astronomical experience perfect for your DC vacation. High above, a 70-foot diameter dome is pummeled with multimedia space imagery, giving the audience a three-dimensional space exploration sensation. The primary show at the planetarium, called "Infinity Express, A 20-Minute Tour of the Universe," is an exciting and thought-provoking adventure to include when you visit DC.
National Air and Space Museum
In all, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has over twenty galleries for exhibits, the Lockheed Martin IMAX(r) Theater, flight simulators, a multi-level shop that is the largest of museums in DC, and a food court. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center displays many more treasures, among them the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, Boeing B-29 Super fortress Enola Gay and Space Shuttle Enterprise. To get to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, you can drive, or take a shuttle bus from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the Mall. The shuttles run six times a day from both locations, starting at 9am with the last shuttle departing at 5pm. Tickets for the shuttle are under $10 round-trip, and are sold at the IMAX film box office. If you drive to the center, you should be aware that parking is around $15, due to the fact that the center lies on airport property.
Air and Space Museum
When you visit DC, don"t forget to leave time to shop! The National Air and Space Museum has an enormous, multilevel store full of fun and educational space goodies. You can see the original U.S.S. Enterprise model from the set of "Star Trek" there. Or you can wander through the collector"s items and books, or buy a few postcards for friends. The upper level offers an expansive book department and a multimedia section. Whether you are a first-time DC vacationer or return visitor, there is always something new going on at this wonderful museum, designed to celebrate discovery itself.