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Air and Space Museum to start seven-year, nearly $1B overhaul by the summer of 2018

Expect new exhibits, roofing, and new cladding for the facade

All renderings via the Smithsonian Institution

For seven years, the National Air and Space Museum will undergo a nearly $1 billion overhaul. When construction begins the summer of 2018 on the approximately 40-year-old museum, the artifacts in the west side of the building will be relocated to Chantilly, Virginia’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, according to Washington Business Journal.

At the moment, the building’s stone cladding system is warped, and the HVAC system is at the end of its run. The glass curtain wall also allows in too much UV radiation, which has damaged some of the museum’s artifacts, including astronaut John Young's now-yellowed Gemini 10 space suit.

When it comes to what to expect for this Smithsonian Institution project, all 23 exhibit area will be replaced with the first few exhibits expected to open by 2021. When new cladding is added to the exterior of the building, it is expected to have a lifespan of 100 years. Across the roof, 1,300, 345-watt solar panels will also be installed.

This will be the Smithsonian Institution’s most costly project ever undertaken. On what is causing the renovation to have such a high value, Washington Business Journal reported:

“The full cost of construction, to include complete refacing of the exterior Tennessee marble facade, replacement of outdated mechanical systems, and construction of new vestibule and queuing areas, is expected to cost $650 million. The construction of all new exhibits is expected to cost $250 million more, which the Smithsonian is now actively working to privately raise.”

The initial costs of the project were reported to be $365 million. If the Smithsonian Institution were to consider constructing a new building, that would top $2 billion and take around nine years to complete. $131 million would also 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]."

To see how the cost of this project compares to past projects completed by the Smithsonian Institution, check out the following graph:

Next week, the National Capital Planning Commission will consider the final design of the construction project.

Since the National Air and Space Museum was constructed in 1976, over 350 million have come through the museum’s doors. DCist reported that this museum was the second-most visited museum in the world in 2016. When it was first constructed, the project cost $40 million, or approximately $176 million in 2017 dollars, according to the Washington Business Journal.

To see what other cultural institutions in the nation’s capital are expected to undergo major renovations, check out this Curbed DC map.

The Air and Space Museum was built for $40M. Next year, the Smithsonian begins its $900M overhaul. [Washington Business Journal]

Air And Space Museum Will Undergo Seven Years Of Renovations [DCist]

The National Air and Space Museum’s options for building exterior refresh [Curbed DC]

How the Air and Space Museum’s renovation cost compares to other Smithsonian projects [Curbed DC]

10 D.C. Cultural Institutions Undergoing or Soon to Undergo Major Renovations [Curbed DC]

National Air and Space Museum

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