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Washington, D.C.'s Top 10 : National Air and Space Museum

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This fascinating museum’s 22 main exhibition galleries pay homage to some of the most ingenious and beautifully crafted objects of flight, from the Wright brothers’ airplane to powerful spacecraft. America by Air outlines the history of America’s airline industry including airplanes from the formative years of mechanical flight. Compelling exhibitions put these historic objects in their social and political context. Moon rock is displayed so that the public can touch it.

  • Independence Ave, SW & 7th St, SW

  • 202 633 1000

  • www.nasm.si.edu

  • Open 10am–5:30pm daily; closed Dec 25

  • Dis. access

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

  • Dulles International Airport


Museum Guide

Entrances to the museum are on both Independence Avenue and the Mall. Both lead into the spacious central hall where the most famous airplanes of all time are displayed. An information booth is near the Independence Avenue entrance. Visitors who plan to enjoy a film at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater or the Albert Einstein Planetarium should obtain their tickets on arrival at the museum, since seats are often not available immediately.


Museum façade

McDonald’s, Boston Market, and Donato’s Pizzeria are located in the greenhouse-like extension on the east end of the building.


The gift shop displays the model of the USS Enterprise used in the filming of Star Trek. This is the largest of the Smithsonian shops and worth a visit .



Top 10 Exhibits
  1. 1903 Wright Flyer

    On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright flew this craft 120 ft (35 m), making it the first plane to be airborne. Muslin fitted with a spruce and ash framework provided a light but strong body. The Wright brothers also designed the engine.

  2. Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis

    Charles A. Lindbergh flew this plane on the first transatlantic flight, 3,610 miles (5,810 km) from Long Island to Paris in 1927. His 33-hour solo flight made him one of the most famous men of his age and turned aviation into a public craze. NYP stands for New York–Paris.

  3. Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia

    This vessel was the command center for the first human landing in space. It carried Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and “Buzz” Aldrin to the moon and back.

  4. Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 5B Vega

    In this striking airplane, Amelia Earhart completed the second solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic, from New-foundland to Ireland in14 hours, 54 minutes.

  5. Skylab Orbital Workshop

    This gold cylinder was an identical backup to the workshop that provided living and research space for the first US space station.

  6. How Things Fly

    Hands-on exhibits here lead visitors through the basics of flight, both human and animal, and explain forces that control flight of all types, from a helium balloon to a mission to Mars.

  7. Looking at Earth

    The focus here is on the contribution aerial photography and space flight have given to our understanding of Earth. Also memorable is the breathtaking beauty of some of the images.

  8. Re-enactment of the Eagle Moon Landing

    Much of the world held its breath on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin and the Lunar Module Eagle approached and touched down on the moon’s Sea of Tranquillity. Visitors can re-experience one of the 20th century’s most thrilling moments in this multimedia display.

  9. WWI and WWII Aviation

    A collection of Allied and Axis planes from World Wars I and II, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Supermarine Spitfire, makes this one of the most popular parts of the museum.

  10. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

    This state-of-the-art aviation area near Washington Dulles International Airport consists of two exhibition hangars. Opened to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight, it allows NASM to display nearly 300 aircraft and spacecraft.

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