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How the Air and Space Museum’s renovation cost compares to other Smithsonian projects

This one renovation will cost more than all the past renovations on the American Art Museum, American History Museum, Renwick Gallery, and Arts and Industries Building, combined

Later this year, renovations are expected to begin on the 40-year-old National Air and Space Museum. According to The Washington Post, this will be the most costly project the Smithsonian Institution has ever undertaken.

While the initial costs of the project were reported to be $365 million, the price was revised this past June to nearly $1 billion. Washington Business Journal reported that the federal government will pay $726 million for the project with the Smithsonian Institution footing $250 million of the bill. During the renovations, an additional $50 million will be needed to construct a storage space that will protect the museum’s collection.

To show just how expensive this project is in comparison to other projects the Smithsonian Institution has tackled, check out the bar graph below.

According to Smithsonian officials, the roughly $1 billion renovation is more affordable than razing the entire structure and constructing a new building. The Washington Post reported that this latter option would top $2 billion and take nine years to complete. If this option were chosen, $131 million would be lost in revenue during the closing. In an interview with the Washington City Paper, a Smithsonian spokesperson said the cost of demolition and rebuilding was "not fully investigate[d]."

The renovation will make the museum’s 22 galleries "more innovative and engaging," reported The Washington Post. Additionally, during the project, the Tennessee marble facade will be removed and replaced with new panels. The glass curtain wall glazing will be replaced with triple glazed, thermally broken panels with an aluminum frame and internal steel reinforcement for blast resistance. Across the roof, 1,300, 345-watt solar panels will also be installed. Finally, the HVAC system will be replaced.

The renovation will be done in phases and last until 2025. Portions of the building will be closed during this time.

National Air and Space Museum

600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20560 (202) 633-2214 Visit Website