In October we took a trip to the Udvar-Hazy wing of the National Air and Space Museum. Since I was with the kids I didn’t get a chance to properly explore it. But it’s a great museum for kids since it’s full of big things which they understand. And concepts like “fastest plane ever” or “space travel” are things that impress them. The hanger is huge and it’s indeed a lot of fun to see so many of these iconic aircraft in the flesh.
While some of the important smaller artifacts are in the DC museum—Mercury 7, Apollo 11,* Spirit of St. Louis, and the Wright Flyer—there’s not enough room to house the larger aircraft. And it’s fantastic to be able to see things like a Blackbird, the Enola Gay, the Space Shuttle Discovery, or a Concorde. In the same way the you can only really grok the insanity/bravery of the early astronauts by looking at how small the capsules they were in, you have to also see how huge things like the Space Shuttle are.
*Actually, when I wandered through there in December after seeing Ragnar Kjartansson, Nation to Nation, and Horace Poolaw shows, Apollo 11 was not on display and is supposedly being shipped to Udvar Hazy. I’m curious what’s going to become of the DC museum as more and more iconic planes end up in Virginia. I didn’t write about the December visit because it was mainly just seeing the highlights of the collection. But I can say that the New Moon Rises exhibition was kind of neat.
I particularly like being able to see the textures and details of the aircrafts from how the Space Shuttle is so many different colors of white to all the different panels and things on all the airplanes’ surfaces. When I imagine airplanes I imagine them with sleek seamless surfaces even though I know better.