For the first time in more than 20 years, the Air and Space Museum has brought Charles Lindbergh’s high-flying “Spirit of St. Louis” down to earth. The famous aircraft will remain on the museum floor at eye level for approximately five months while it undergoes preservation work before being suspended once again in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.
“This is a rare chance for us to get a close-up look at the plane and to give it a thorough preservation treatment that will last decades into the future,” said Malcolm Collum, chief conservator at the museum. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to see the plane from a different perspective while observing the museum’s conservation staff while they clean and protect the aircraft.
The “Spirit of St. Louis” is one of the museum’s most popular artifacts and is showcased in the Milestones exhibition because of its significance to the world of aeronautics. On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off alone from New York and arrived in Paris 33 hours and 30 minutes later. He was greeted by a crowd of more than 100,000 eager to glimpse the 26-year-old who had just completed the first solo transatlantic flight. The plane was presented to the Smithsonian by Lindbergh in 1928, soon after the milestone-setting flight. It was initially on display in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building and then came to the National Air and Space Museum when it opened in 1976.
The Milestones exhibition, which is the museum’s central and largest space, has looked much the same since the museum opened. During the renovation, the museum will stay open to the public. Although some smaller artifacts have already been moved, the lowering of the “Spirit of St. Louis” is the first of many major changes visitors will notice in the hall as the hall undergoes renovation. The renovation will be completed in time for the museum’s 40th anniversary in 2016 and will give the hall a streamlined “21st century” look and will feature themes and displays suited to today’s visitors.
Posted: 16 January 2015