2021 marks the 175th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institute. As part of the celebrations, the Smithsonian will be reopening the Arts and Industries Building for a new exhibit looking towards the future.
The Arts and Industries Building opened in 1881 as the first US National Museum. Nearly every other Smithsonian Museum had its origins there; the Arts and Industries Building had been used to debut natural history collections, rocket ships, and the first telephone. In 2004, the building closed due to structural concerns and has remained closed since then.
The building will reopen in November 2021 for a new exhibit, FUTURES. The show combines art, technology, design, and history to invite visitors to imagine many different futures. It will also highlight the Smthsonian’s historic role as an engine of the future. FUTURES is divided into four sections each housed in one of the Arts and Industries Building’s four monumental halls: Past Futures, Futures that Inspire, Futures that Unite and Futures that Work. Nearly 150 objects will be on display. Some, such as a Planetary Society space sail for deep space travel, will be on public view for the first time.
In a press release, Director of the Arts and Industries Building Rachel Goslins described the decision to house of the show in the building. “For 175 years, the Smithsonian has been helping people better understand who we are, where we have been and where we want to go. With ‘FUTURES,’ we want to invite all visitors to discover, debate and delight in the many possibilities for our shared future. There’s no place better to do this than in the Arts and Industries Building, the nation’s original home for big ideas,” Goslins said.