National Air and Space Museum Receives $10 Million Gift From Kenneth C. Griffin

New “Exploring the Planets Gallery” Anticipated To Open Next Year
May 18, 2021
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Rendering of museum exhibit

Rendering of “Exploring the Planets Gallery” exhibition.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has received a $10 million gift from Citadel Founder and CEO and philanthropist Ken Griffin to support the creation of the new “Exploring the Planets” exhibition. It will tell the stories of the diverse worlds circling the sun and how exploring those worlds helps enhance people’s understanding of Earth. The “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery,” which is scheduled to open in 2022, is part of the museum’s ongoing transformation of its galleries at its flagship building in Washington, D.C.

“We’re grateful for Ken’s generous support as we reimagine the National Air and Space Museum,” said Chris Browne, acting director of the museum. “With new planetary research and discoveries being made all the time, the ‘Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery’ will be an exciting and dynamic destination for visitors when it opens next year.”

Filled with dramatic images of amazing features, such as ancient volcanoes, huge canyons, methane lakes, massive storms and complex ring systems, the exhibition will probe the science and history of the exploration of planets and moons. The gallery will feature key artifacts, including a full-scale replica of the Voyager spacecraft, a model of the Messenger spacecraft and three generations of Mars rovers. Rather than a planet-by-planet presentation from Mercury through the outer solar system, the exhibition will be organized from the outside in, emphasizing the three distinct types of worlds—small icy bodies, giant planets and rocky planets.

“From the dawn of time, the stars above have evoked a universal sense of awe and wonder,” said Ken Griffin. “Space has been the inspiration of art and philosophy, and a catalyst for many of our greatest advances in science and technology. The ‘Exploring the Planets Gallery’ will traverse one of humanity’s timeless interests and captivate the minds of millions of visitors for years to come.”

To view the behind-the-scenes development, visit the “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery” Flickr page. For more information about how the museum is transforming all of its exhibitions and revitalizing the building, visit

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport.

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