American Forces Press Service
Jan. 27, 2009 - The National Museum of the Marine Corps here has maintained its position as a top Virginia attraction, with more than 500,000 visitors recorded in 2008, museum officials said. 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 also from across the nation. Since it opened to the public in November 2006, more than 1.2 million visitors have visited the museum.
"We are extremely pleased, though not surprised, by the number of visitors we received in 2008," Lin Ezell, the museum's director, said. "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 soon will 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, which are expected to open in spring 2010, already has begun. In the meantime, the museum remains open, with several exhibits moving temporarily within the building 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 be coming soon to the museum, including the Marine Corps flag that survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist 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 from Jan. 30 to March 29.
With funding provided by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and its donors, the adjacent Semper Fidelis Memorial Park also will 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, Ariz., 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 servicemembers.
For more information on the museum, go to www.usmcmuseum.org or call 1-877-635-1775.
(From a National Museum of the Marine Corps news release.)