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Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to undergo gallery renovations

Visitors look at a model of a Saturn V Rocket and its Launch Umbilical Tower which were used during the Apollo moon-landing program August 31, 2012 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Visitors look at a model of a Saturn V Rocket and its Launch Umbilical Tower which were used during the Apollo moon-landing program August 31, 2012 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Smithsonian is about to undergo a big change, specifically within its National Air and Space Museum, thanks to a hefty donation announced this week that will allow for the museum's first renovations in its nearly 40-year history.

The museum's plan will involve a two-year renovation of the “Milestones of Flight” gallery, scheduled to begin this month. Boeing has donated $30 million to be paid out over seven years for the renovation, which is reportedly the biggest donation the Smithsonian has ever received from a corporation.

When the overhaul is completed, visitors will be able to walk through the new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. Officials are aiming to have the construction completed in time for the museum's 40th anniversary, which will officially occur on July 1, 2016. 2016 is also Boeing's centennial year.

Some more well-known aircraft will be added to the museum's main hall, joining the likes of the Wright Brothers' plane and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. In a classic, yet futuristic addition, for example, a model of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek is set to enter the hall. Digital displays and informational kiosks will also be added.

“This 21st century transformation helps us honor the past innovations while inspiring future innovations,” museum director Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey said, notes the Washington Post.

Renovations of other parts of the museum such as the children's exhibit "How Things Fly" and educational content will also come with the help of funding from Boeing. The museum will be open during the renovation process.