Visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

August 13, 2014 USA

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum can be said to hold the pride of possessing the largest collection ever of historic spacecraft and aircraft in the world. It covers an area of exhibition floor space of one hundred and sixty one thousand, one hundred and forty five square feet. Its building was launched in 1976 in the United States of America, specifically near the Capitol city, Washington, D.C but the museum was established in as early as 1946! Where history and science of aviation and spaceflight are concerned, the museum is the center of research. Also planetary science, terrestrial geology and geophysics are researched at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It looks like every single space and aircraft on display that has ever existed are originals or backups to the originals. The Museum encompasses an area of seven hundred and sixty thousand square feet and it operates an annex, known as Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center, at the international Airport of Dulles that was launched in year two thousand and three. Until last year, the Museum had been conducting the restoration of its collections in Maryland, specifically Suitland in a facility known as Paul E. Garber preservation, restoration, and storage facility but as of 2014, it’s steadily moving such restorations and archival into its Udvar-Hazy annex facilities.

In specific the world’s largest and most vital collections that we are discussing about are the aviation and space artifacts touching all aspects of human flight plus all related works of art and archival materials. The museum is the home to the Center for Planetary and Earth Studies and is the most frequented in the country in terms of visits per year as over eight million visitors take a tour to the Museum’s two landmark facilities annually.


Facility’s Tourist-like appearance:

As the building’s location is near the Capitol city of the United States of America, Washington D.C, it had to be impressive architecturally that would not stand out in exaggeration against the Capitol building. The building was designed by the famous St. Louis-based architect known as Gyo Obata of HOK. He made it in the design standing out as four simple marble closed cubes possessing smaller and advanced theatrical exhibits, that hold on together through the assistance of three spacious steel and glass atria which welcome the giant exhibits such as missiles, spacecraft, and airplanes. Just like the National Gallery of Art standing tall in the National Mall so is the Museum in comparison of using pink Tennessee Marble. The Museum was completed in the year 1976 as I mentioned earlier, and its construction was contracted to a firm known as the Gilbane Building Company. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia was also designed by Obata, Kassabaum, and Hellmuth where, the west glass wall of the facility functions as a giant door and is utilized for the installation of airplanes.


Its Development:

It was formed on twelfth August, year nineteen forty six originally named as National Air Museum by an act of Congress and endorsed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Some collection’s pieces are as old as year eighteen seventy six Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia following the donation of kites to the Smithsonian by the Chinese Imperial Commission. This was after the Smithsonian secretary known as Spencer Fullerton Baird stroked a negotiation and was able to convince exhibiters that shipping those pieces of collection was way too much costly. In eighteen eighty nine, the String-fellow steam engine intended for aircraft was added to the collection making it the first piece the Smithsonian actively acquired which is currently NASM collection. After the establishment of the museum, the NASM had no facility of its own and there was no building that was available and that was capable to hold all its items for display and due to that reason, the Smithsonian was forced to search for its own facility to restore and store aircraft. The renaming of National Air Museum to the National Air and Space Museum was led by the space race in the years nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties where finally the congressional passage of appropriations for the construction of the current exhibition facility was opened in the first July, year nineteen seventy six at the United States’ height Bicentennial festivities that was led by Michael Collins, the director. Michael Collins had also flown to the moon on Apollo 11.

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