The Arts and Industries Building (AIB) is the Smithsonian’s second oldest building and a national hub for creative exchange between ideas and objects from our past and our future. AIB opened in 1881 as the country’s first U.S. National Museum, an architectural icon in the heart of the National Mall. Its soaring halls introduced millions of Americans to wonders about to change the world—Edison’s lightbulb, the first telephone, Apollo rockets.
Over the years, AIB was the origin and incubator for almost every other Smithsonian museum, debuting everything from dinosaurs to rocket ships. Never fully renovated, the building closed completely in 2004 due to structural concerns. Now, for the first time in 140 years, we are reimagining the building in its entirety to renew its original purpose: to be an incubator for thinking about, and even solving, some of the biggest challenges we face today.
To celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary in 2021, we reopened AIB for the first time in two decades with a groundbreaking new experience that looks forward. Part exhibition, part festival, FUTURES is the first building-wide exploration of the future on the National Mall. What do you imagine when you think of the future? We invite you to dream, debate, delight, and discover not just one but many possible futures on the horizon: exosuits, underwater homes, lab-grown meals, experiments, prototypes, and more. Open November 20, 2021 to July 6, 2022, FUTURES is your guide to a vast array of interactives, artworks, tech, and ideas that are glimpses into humanity’s next chapter.