(BUSINESS WIRE)--With more than 1.6 million visitors to date, the National Museum of the Marine Corps looks ahead to an exciting year to include the opening of three new galleries. Scheduled for June 2010, the Museum will open three additional large-scale galleries with exhibits interpreting the legendary founding of the Corps in 1775, the Civil War, the U.S. global trade expansion in the 19th century and World War I. The new exhibits will include an additional immersive experience, for which the Museum has become world renowned. Visitors will enter a stretch of forest in western France amidst the Battle of Belleau Wood, encountering a German machine gun nest. With the smell of cordite in the air and the sound of bullets whistling above their heads, visitors will experience the charge of Marines across a wheat field, just as it happened on June 6, 1918. The official opening of these new exhibits coincides with the 92nd anniversary of the historic Battle of Belleau Wood.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is also preparing for one of the largest gatherings of living Iwo Jima veterans and their families to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Museum will host a commemoration ceremony and banquet Feb. 19 - 20, with special guests including General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and more than 200 invited veterans of the battle and family members. The National Museum of the Marine Corps is the ideal location to host the commemoration events, with an immersion gallery honoring the battle that offers a first-hand experience of the landing, as well as the display of both iconic American flags-raised at Mount Suribachi. One of the most famous World War II battles, these events are co-hosted by the Iwo Jima Association of America and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. In addition to the formal commemoration ceremony and banquet at the National Museum, a wreath laying ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial will honor all Iwo Jima veterans.
The Museum also kicked off the new year with the major announcement that Curtis Fentress, founder of Denver-based Fentress Architects, will be honored with the American Institute of Architects’ 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award for public architecture. Architect of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel, Mr. Fentress is receiving AIA’s Thomas Jefferson Award for his portfolio of accomplishments and contributions to the quality of public architecture. His work on the National Museum of the Marine Corps has received widespread critical praise for evoking images of the flag-raising at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
In its third full year in operation, the National Museum of the Marine Corps ended 2009 continuing to be one of the most visited destinations in Virginia, attracting visitors from across the region, throughout the nation and around the world. In a Museum survey taken June 2009 through August 2009, 63.5 percent of respondents were non-Marines, showcasing the National Museum’s broad appeal to civilians and other service branches as well as the Marine community. 80 percent of survey respondents gave the National Museum an overall rating of “outstanding;” 17 percent rated the facility as “excellent;” 84 percent noted they would likely return to the National Museum and an impressive 97 percent said they would recommend the National Museum to others.
As visitors of all ages and interests from across the country both discover and return to visit the Museum, it expects to receive its 2 millionth visitor in 2010. 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 world-class campus to be enjoyed by visitors time and time again. The Foundation’s plans to further develop the Marine Corps Heritage Center include the expansion of Semper Fidelis Memorial Park as well as the construction of a giant screen theater with a feature film and additional interactive exhibit galleries.
For more information on the National Museum of the Marine Corps, visit www.usmcmuseum.org or call 1-877-635-1775 to speak to a staff member during normal business hours.
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