(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Museum of the Marine Corps has announced over 500,000 visitors recorded in 2008, maintaining its position as a top Virginia attraction. In its second full year open to the public, the Museum’s attendance was bolstered by attracting Marines and families not only from the region but from across the nation. Since opening to the public in November 2006, the Museum has received over 1.2 million visitors.
“We are extremely pleased, though not surprised, by the number of visitors we received in 2008,” said Lin Ezell, the Museum’s Director. “Today people are looking for economical ways to spend time with their families and as a free, cutting-edge and educational attraction located off I-95, we provide a great and convenient destination for them.”
The Museum will soon expand to include three additional galleries with exhibits interpreting the periods from 1775 through World War I, each featuring new, state-of-the-art visitor immersive experiences. Construction on the new galleries, expected to open in the spring of 2010, has already begun. Despite construction on future galleries, the Museum remains open to the public, with several exhibits moving temporarily within the Museum and remaining on public display, including combat photographs of the Global War on Terrorism and a Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle.
New exhibits and artifacts will also soon come to the Museum, including the Marine Corps flag that survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon and the traveling exhibit, “Memories of World War II”, which includes photographs from the Associated Press archives. The black and white photography exhibit will be on display at the Museum January 30 through March 29.
With funding provided by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and its donors, the adjacent Semper Fidelis Memorial Park will also expand in 2009 with the addition of a new chapel slated to open in September. The $5 million nondenominational chapel is made possible by a gift from the Timothy Day Foundation of Phoenix, AZ and will be a quiet and contemplative space where visitors can honor the sacrifices of those who serve and have served the nation. The structure will evoke images and memories of the improvised field chapels familiar to all service members.
The initiatives to expand the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Heritage Center are fulfilling the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s vision of creating a multi-dimensional, world-class facility to be enjoyed by visitors time and time again.
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