Aviation museums offering free admission on Museum Day, September 18

Sep 12, 2021

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Between shutdowns of public spaces, staff layoffs, and budget cuts, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on museums and cultural attractions across the United States.

But that won’t stop close to 1,000 museums, zoos and cultural centers from opening their doors for free on Saturday, September 18 as part of Museum Day 2021. Coordinated by Smithsonian magazine (and canceled last year due to COVID-19), the event celebrates the reopening of museums and the return of arts and cultural experiences with this year’s theme of Experience America.

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“In a year that has challenged us in us in unprecedented ways it is our hope that this year’s event serves as a reminder of the people, places and cultural experiences that have the power to unite us all,” said Amy Wilkins, chief revenue officer at Smithsonian Media.

Each participating museum will offer free admission to guests who present a museum day ticket that has been downloaded from the Museum Day site. Visitors may request one ticket per email and each ticket provides general admission to the ticket holder and one guest.

In addition to offering what can be quite a hefty savings on admission fees, Museum Day 2021 gives guests a chance to revisit a favorite museum or explore a new one they may have been curious about. For AvGeeks, Museum Day offers yet another excuse to visit an aviation or space-themed museum.

Choosing a museum to visit for free

The Museum Day website makes it easy to find a participating museum to visit. You can search by zip code, by state, or by type of museum. Under “Air & Space” we found 27 museums listed, but there are many more museums that are home to aviation or space-related artifacts tucked under the “Science” and “History” categories.

If you find a museum that interests you, be sure to download your ticket right away; some museums have already sold out. And keep in mind that at some museums you may be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and exchange your Museum Day ticket for a timed entry ticket.

Here is a sampling of the aviation museums participating in Museum Day 2021:

Seattle, WA: The Museum of Flight (regular adult admission: $25) is a regular Museum Day participant and this year pass holders will be able to enjoy the museum’s new exhibit, Stranger Than Fiction – The Incredible Science of Aerospace Medicine and enjoy family workshops based on the exhibit themes.

Titusville, FL: American Space Museum (regular adult admission: $10): Exhibits include everything from spacecraft parts to astronaut suits, to Soviet cosmonaut mementos. The museum has John Glenn’s hard hat from Project Mercury, the stuck thruster that almost killed Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott in Gemini VIII, working mission control consoles from Apollo and the Shuttle program and galleries dedicated to Women of Space, unmanned missions, and the future of space.

Hutchinson, KS: Cosmosphere (regular adult admission: $24.50): In addition to the having the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow, this Smithsonian affiliated museum boasts a collection of U.S. space artifacts that it claims is second only to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Museum Day tickets provide entry to the Cosmosphere’s Hall of Space Museum, which features everything from an Apollo 11 moon rock and an MIR sleeping bag to the Replica Bell X-1 Rocket Plane, “Glamorous Glennis,” used in the movie The Right Stuff and a 109-foot Gemini Titan rocket.

Dallas, TX: Frontiers of Flight Museum (regular adult admission: $10): This Smithsonian affiliated museum is on the southeast corner of Dallas Love Field and has more than 40 air and space vehicles, 20 galleries (including the Braniff Gallery, the Golden Age Gallery, and a gallery devoted to the history of Southwest Airlines), and thousands of historical artifacts. As part of Museum Day, the museum is opening the cockpits of many aircraft and providing access to the Flight Simulator Lab from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

New York, NY: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (regular adult admission: $33): The Intrepid is a legendary aircraft carrier and a National Historic Landmark that is big enough to house 28 aircraft, the space shuttle Enterprise, a British Airways Concorde, and Growler, the only guided missile submarine open to the public.

If you miss getting free admission to an aviation museum during this year’s Museum Day event, don’t fret. Admission is free year-round to the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which is home to national treasures such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. Free year-round admission extends to the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, just a few miles of Washington Dulles Airport (IAD), which houses the space shuttle Discovery, an Air France Concorde, and other large aviation treasures.

Photo courtesy Museum of Flight

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