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Aviation museums to visit for free on Smithsonian Museum Day, Sept. 17

Sept. 17, 2022
5 min read
Fit to Fly Wall- Courtesy Museum of Flight
Aviation museums to visit for free on Smithsonian Museum Day, Sept. 17
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Close to 1,000 museums, zoos, science centers and gardens will open their doors for free on Saturday, Sept. 17, as part of Museum Day 2022.

Smithsonian Magazine coordinates this event and this year’s theme, The American Experience, celebrates the wide range of arts, culture, sciences, innovation and history exhibits across the country.

“We are so thrilled to be able to bring Museum Day to the public for the 18th year and to once again be able to highlight many of the museums and cultural institutions that make America so special,” said Amy Wilkins, of Smithsonian Media.

Here’s how it works: Through the Museum Day website, visitors may request and download one ticket per email. Each ticket provides general admission to the ticket holder and one guest.

With some museum admissions topping $30 per person these days, visiting a museum with a free ticket on Museum Day can mean significant savings. You can revisit a favorite museum or explore a new one you have been curious about.

For aviation fans, Museum Day offers yet another excuse to visit an aviation or space-themed museum.

Choosing a museum to visit for free


But which museum will you choose?

To find which museums are participating in your area, go to the Museum Day website and search by zip code, state or by type of museum.

Under “Air & Space” we found 27 museums listed. But because aviation and aerospace play a part in the history of so many communities, you’ll find other sites that are home to aviation or space-related artifacts tucked under the “Science” and “History” categories, which together list more than 500 participating sites.

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If you find a museum that interests you, download your ticket right away; some museums have already handed out their allotted tickets.

Here is a sampling of the aviation museums participating in Museum Day 2022.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum — McMinnville, Oregon

This museum is home to the iconic Hughes Flying Boat Spruce Goose, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Other aircraft, exhibits and artifacts include an SR-71 Blackbird, the Titan II Space Launch Vehicle (SLV) with its original launch room, and a MaxFlight full-motion interactive flight simulator ride. Regular adult admission is $22.

Empire State Aerosciences Museum — Glenville, New York

At Schenectady County Airport at the site of the former General Electric Flight Test Center, this museum offers interpretive exhibits, restored aircraft, and the state's largest aviation library. Regular adult admission is $8.

Frontiers of Flight Museum — Dallas, Texas

You'll find this gem at the southeastern corner of the Dallas Love Field Airport. The museum includes two hangar-like buildings filled with more than 40 air and space vehicles and 20-plus galleries, including the Braniff Gallery, the Golden Age Gallery and a gallery devoted to the history of Southwest Airlines. Regular adult admission is $12.

Flight Path Museum & Learning Center at LAX, Los Angeles, California

As its name implies, this recently re-curated museum is on the airfield at Los Angeles International Airport. The museum focuses on preserving the heritage of Southern California aviation and aerospace. Exhibits include airline crew uniforms, aircraft models, aviation memorabilia and art, a space exploration gallery and an aviation and aerospace library. Regular adult admission is $5.

Museum of Flight — Seattle, Washington

This museum boasts a new exhibit The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, a retrospective of The Walt Disney Studios’ extensive contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort. The world’s largest independent air and space museum also displays over 160 airplanes and spacecraft on a 23-acre campus that includes six buildings and the original Boeing Aircraft factory. Regular adult admission is $25.

American Space Museum — Titusville, Florida

Here you'll find exhibits featuring spacecraft parts, astronaut suits and Soviet cosmonaut mementos. The collection includes John Glenn’s hard hat from Project Mercury, the stuck thruster that almost killed Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott in Gemini VIII, and working mission control consoles from Apollo and the Shuttle. Regular adult admission is $10.

Cosmosphere — Hutchinson, Kansas

This Smithsonian-affiliated museum boasts the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow, as well as a collection of U.S. space artifacts second only to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. On Museum Day, ticketholders receive admission to Cosmo Kids and the Hall of Space Museum, which has a German Gallery, an X-Plane Gallery, a Cold War Gallery, an Early Spaceflight Gallery, an Apollo Gallery and an Astronaut Experience gallery. Regular adult admission is $26.50.

Some of the other aviation museums participating in Museum Day this year include the New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamogordo), the North Carolina Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame (Asheboro), College Park Aviation Museum (College Park, Maryland), The Aviation Museum of Kentucky (Lexington), the Tillamook Air Museum (Tillamook, Oregon), and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii).

If you miss free admission to an aviation museum on Museum Day, check museum websites for other days and programs when free or discounted admission is offered.

And if you are headed to Washington, D.C. soon, check the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum website. After a four-year closure and $1 billion in renovations, half of the buildings on the National Mall will reopen to the public on Oct. 14, 2022. Entry, as always, will be free, but visitors will need to secure timed-entry tickets online ahead of their visit or take a chance on getting same-day tickets in person.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.