NEW ORLEANS (April 6, 2015) — The National WWII Museum is on the cusp of its 15th Anniversary, and as staff members prepare for the occasion, they’re also celebrating an extraordinary new record—73,449 Museum visitors in March 2015, a 31 percent increase from March 2014. This new high point for attendance in a single month comes on the heels of two recent achievements for the Museum—more than 515,000 visitors in 2014, a 14 percent increase from the previous year, and the opening of the latest pavilion on the growing campus, Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters.
“It’s truly gratifying to see more people than ever coming to the Museum,” said Museum President and CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller. “We had roughly 56,000 visitors at the Museum last March, that’s an increase of more than 17,000. This record is stunning and shows that we are advancing an essential mission, bringing powerful stories to light, reaching new audiences and playing a major role in building the cultural economy.”
In addition to setting a new record for total visitation in one month, the Museum also experienced its highest volume of school group visitation in a single month—nearly 6,800 students (k-12/college) visited the Museum on field trips last March, a record that proves the institution is continuing to position itself as an educational resource, serving the needs of teachers and students.
The National WWII Museum originally opened as The National D-Day Museum on June 6, 2000, founded by author and historian Stephen Ambrose. Mueller and many supporters brought Ambrose’s dream to life and took it to new levels. The Museum received a Congressional designation as America’s National WWII Museum in 2004 and has been carrying out an ambitious expansion plan ever since. Museum leaders’ goal is to complete the six-acre campus while there are still WWII veterans left to see it. Last month, the Museum received a $20 million private donation that will help reach the goal. The donation came from businessman and longtime Museum Trustee Boysie Bollinger and his wife Joy.
“Boysie Bollinger’s remarkable gift has been an inspiration to all of us,” said Mueller. “It’s the largest private donation the Museum as ever received. The year 2015 is off to an incredible start, and these milestones provide motivation and encouragement to complete the Museum’s master plan.”
This December, Campaigns of Courage will reach completion with the launch of Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries. The exhibition hall will trace the path that led from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay, examining the logistical challenges, fierce battles and range of extreme conditions that confronted troops in this vast theater of war. Throughout the galleries, artifacts will connect visitors to the intense struggle, including uniforms, personal effects and an authentic restored P-40 Warhawk—bearing the distinctive markings of the Flying Tigers. A new exhibit on the Merchant Marine is also scheduled for completion in December.
The consistent increase in visitation numbers is evidence of the economic impact The National WWII Museum has on the city of New Orleans. Already a compelling tourist attraction and national destination, 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 the Canopy of Peace, which will symbolize the hope and promise unleashed by the end of WWII hostilities. Additional future projects include development of a Hall of Democracy pavilion to house outreach and academic programs and additional exhibit space, and also 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.