NEW ORLEANS (January 26, 2015) — While staff at The National WWII Museum are preparing for a very busy 2015, they are also looking back on a year of several major milestones for the New Orleans institution. The Museum ended 2014 with more than 515,000 visitors, a 14 percent increase from the previous year. On December 13, the newest pavilion on the growing campus, Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters, opened to the public with the first phase of exhibits—Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries.
Additionally, visitation soared to more than 46,000 in December, a 22 percent increase from the previous December. And in July, the 14-year-old institution got a slightly belated birthday gift when it surpassed the 4 million mark in visitation since its opening.
"We've always known that this is a very special place," said Museum President & CEO Nick Mueller. "Now a whole lot of other people know it too!"
The National WWII Museum originally opened as The National D-Day Museum on June 6, 2000, founded by author and historian Stephen Ambrose. The Museum received the Congressional designation as the official WWII museum of the United States in 2004 and has been carrying out an ambitious expansion plan ever since. The goal is to complete the six-acre campus while there are still veterans left to see it.
"I am so proud of what has been accomplished in such a short period of time," said Mueller, "but it's nothing compared to what our nation was able to do, along with our Allies. It certainly keeps it all in perspective."
Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries traces the grueling challenges facing the citizen soldier in the European theater—from the faltering early battles in North Africa to the bloody struggle at Germany's doorstep. A series of nine immersive galleries features crumbling walls, bomb-torn rooftops, icy pathways, and a chillingly realistic soundscape to set the scene for conveying information of immense breadth and depth. Period newsreels, video histories, interactive kiosks, macro artifacts, and tag-able digital displays sit beside traditional macros such as an Opel staff car and Howitzer gun, offering numerous touchpoints, so anyone—young or old, expert or novice—can find ways to connect to history.
Opening in December 2015, Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries will trace the wartime journey from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay by way of New Guinea and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Burma and the islands of the Pacific. Exhibits will explore the evolving strategy for fighting in the Pacific, examining the cultural differences and range of extreme conditions that confronted troops. Throughout the galleries, artifacts large and small will connect visitors to the fierce struggle in the Pacific, featuring uniforms, personal effects and an authentic restoration of a P-40 Warhawk—painted with the iconic markings of the Flying Tigers.
Future plans in the $325 million expansion call for building the Liberation Pavilion, an exploration of end-of-war and postwar experiences, as well as how the war's repercussions and major themes continue to impact the world today. Other future projects tentatively include development of a Hall of Democracy pavilion that houses outreach and academic programs and additional exhibit space, and a hotel and conference center.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or on Facebook.