Behind the Scenes of a Museum’s Makeover

Protecting precious artifacts during the National Air and Space Museum’s multi-year revitalization.

The Starship Enterprise studio model will (boldly) go back on display in early 2022.
The Museum has more than 4,600 model aircraft, including this Grumman F2F-1 model in the Pioneers of Flight gallery.
Staff dismantle the Curtiss R3C-2 Racer in which U.S. Army Lieutenant James Doolittle won the Schneider Trophy Race in October 1925.
The first official Piper J-2 Cub, completed on November 2, 1937, gets some TLC before it heads to storage.

The National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall is undergoing an extensive renovation, and during the next few years, all of the Museum’s 23 galleries will be renewed. To safeguard artifacts during construction, the Museum staff is moving more than 5,200 aircraft, spacecraft, and other items to a new storage facility at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia.

While all Smithsonian museums in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and New York City are temporarily as a public health precaution due to COVID-19, we offer a few peeks at the behind-the-scenes labor. Thinking of visiting? Get updates on what to see at

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This story is a selection from the April/May issue of Air & Space magazine

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