Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Both an Advertisement and an Arcade
When: through January 2016
As long time readers are well aware, Air and Space is possibly my least favorite Smithsonian Museum. It's always crowded, usually with noisy boys running madly from rocket to rocket, and gawping parents, stopping every three steps to look at the space ships hanging from the ceiling. Don't misunderstand me, I've seen some good things here, mostly in the gallery devoted to art (the photographs of the planets is one of the best things I've seen ever), but as a general rule, I don't view a trip to Air and Space with the happy anticipation I experience when contemplating a trip to the Sackler.
Today's voyage did nothing to change my view of Air and Space, although I think this exhibit will delight many visitors. It's called "Above and Beyond," and it deals with innovation in flight. Since flight, whether on Earth or into space, is nothing but innovation, this is not much of a stretch. There's plenty to talk about and lots to do.
It's a brand new display, very bright and shiny and interactive. It reminded me strongly of an arcade filled with games, although it occurs to me that such places are probably passe now that everyone has a game system at home. You see the family happily positioning themselves as flying birds in the picture - it's lots of that sort of thing. Videos and simulations are the order of the day.
I also noticed that Boeing is the sponsor of this exhibit. Their name is featured prominently throughout, and in the video I watched, I learned about some new products they are working to develop. I was too weary from being interacted with to develop a full rationale for why this bothered me, but it did and still does. I'm bombarded by advertising every where I look; I'd like my museums to be commercial-free.
Verdict: If you've got children or if you're a fan of games, run right over to Air and Space. Otherwise, you can give this a miss.