Museum Welcomes 3 Millionth Visitor!
John and Patricia Carver weren’t sure what was about to unfold late Tuesday morning as they walked through the front entrance of The National WWII Museum’s Louisiana Pavilion and Dr. Gordon “Nick” Mueller, Museum President and CEO, approached with a broad smile, clutching balloons.
The Carvers, visiting New Orleans from Ann Arbor, Michigan, became the surprise honorees of the day as the Museum celebrated reaching the 3 million mark in paid visitation since the institution’s opening in 2000.
Board of Trustees Chairman Herschel Abbott joined Mueller and Museum staff members in greeting the couple as representatives of an important milestone. Abbott paused, as is customary at Museum public events, to recognize WWII veterans in the audience, noting that their stories are fundamental to the work of educating citizens about the American experience in the war.
Patricia Carver’s father served as a journalist in the Army and her mother was a British war bride; the home where her family lived in the Washington, DC area was built by her father through assistance from the GI Bill. John Carver noted that he had several uncles who served in the Army or Army Air Corps. “I remember they used to give me their patches and stuff,” he said.
Both were eager to take in the Museum’s numerous exhibits and see the 4-D film attraction Beyond All Boundaries. They were provided complimentary admission and other items that will serve as mementos from an extraordinary day.
Television news crews were on hand, eager to talk to the couple.
During a brief public ceremony, Mueller called attention to other milestones already reached by the 12-year-old Museum: collection of more than 7,000 oral histories and more than 100,000 other artifacts; on-site visits by more than 400,000 students; more than 1 million Museum website visitors annually; the development of a national membership of 130,000, with members in every state; and the investment of more than $200 million in Museum construction and expansion projects.
Mueller also noted that personal connections, like those of the Carters, and a desire to better understand a pivotal time in American history drive the swelling visitation numbers, he said.
The Museum is a place where people can rediscover the meaning of the American Spirit, feeling the strength and values of the WWII generation, Mueller said. “There’s a great sense of discovery, self-discovery and pride.”