NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Just two days before the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has announced major new funding to build a new destination attraction as part of the Museum's ongoing $300 million expansion: The United States Freedom Pavilion: Land, Sea & Air.
"The United States Freedom Pavilion will be our largest building, a dramatic architectural statement anchoring the entire Museum campus," said Dr. Gordon "Nick" Mueller, Museum President and CEO. "It will further our mission to tell all generations the epic story of the war that changed the world – every service, every campaign, every hero."
Announced this morning in a ceremony on the Museum campus were a $20 million Congressional grant through the Department of Defense and a $15 million gift from The Boeing Company. These commitments represent the largest federal grant and the largest private contribution The National World War II Museum has ever received. "As the country's only Congressionally designated World War II Museum, it serves to recognize and showcase the significance of World War II and its veterans," noted Senator Mary Landrieu, the senior member of the Louisiana Congressional delegation. "It is with great pride that we dedicate the site of the United States Freedom Pavilion that will serve as a new centerpiece of honoring our veterans and educating our young people. The Freedom Pavilion will bring new and engaging exhibits to Museum visitors, helping to increase tourism to New Orleans and bolster the local economy. Just as Louisiana's Higgins boats were instrumental in our World War II victory, the continuing growth of The National World War II Museum is instrumental in Louisiana's recovery."
Once open in early 2012, the new Pavilion also will showcase large artifacts integral to the Allied victory, including a restored Boeing B-17G "Flying Fortress." Nearly 13,000 B-17s were produced for the war effort. Together, the companies that make up the heritage of Boeing, including Douglas Aircraft and North American Aviation, contributed a stunning 98,965 aircraft to the "Arsenal of Democracy," nearly 28 percent of the total American aircraft production during the war.
Other iconic aircraft to be mounted aloft in the Pavilion are the B25J Mitchell Bomber, representing the Burma Bridge Busters, the TBM Avenger, the P51, and the SBD Dauntless. The Boeing Center will have elevated visitor "catwalks" for closer viewing of the aircraft, and dramatic LED screens will be programmed with historical films and other presentations.
Announcing The Boeing Company gift were Boeing Senior Vice President Rick Stephens and President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security Dennis Muilenburg. "Boeing is proud to support The National World War II Museum and help repay a debt to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who sacrificed so much in that global war, many who never returned to their homes and families," said Muilenburg. "We also believe that, as this Museum pays lasting tribute to all those who sacrificed on the battlefronts and the home front during World War II, future visitors will have a fuller appreciation of what these Americans did for us…and what today's generation of warfighters continue to do for us every day."
Galleries in the United States Freedom Pavilion will pay tribute to all branches of U.S. Armed Forces active during World War II: the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. Interactive experiences will bring to life how all the service branches worked together both strategically and tactically in this global conflict to win many of the most critical battles such as Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa and more.
Another highlight of the United States Freedom Pavilion will be an immersive and interactive submarine experience based on the last war patrol of the USS Tang in the Pacific Theater. Visitors will man the positions and perform the battle actions of actual crewmembers as the sub engages the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces.
New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu noted the significance of the announced funding and the growth of the Museum: "These extraordinary gifts represent an investment of $35 million dollars in The National World War II Museum, in our city and in our state. It's a concrete expression of our recovery and the continuing renaissance of our cultural tourism economy."
"After opening a $60 million complex of three new attractions in November 2009 and breaking all visitation records since, the construction of the United States Freedom Pavilion continues the momentum to complete the entire campus of the Museum while the Greatest Generation is still alive," said Philip G. Satre, Chairman of the Museum's Board of Trustees.
Today, in 2010, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are 1.98 million surviving veterans of WWII. However, they are dying at a rate of 800 per day. When the capital expansion of the Museum is completed in 2015, only 855,000 are expected to still be alive.
In addition to the United States Freedom Pavilion, expansion plans call for the construction of the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion (Summer 2011), the Campaigns Pavilion (2012) and the Liberation Pavilion (2014), as well as an expansive special exhibits gallery and proposed hotel and conference center.
The National World War II 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 World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.
SOURCE The National World War II Museum