National World War II Museum prepares for opening of the U.S. Freedom Pavilion

25 October 2012

A Growing National WWII Museum Gets Ready for New $35 Million Pavilion to Open to the Public on January 13

Let Freedom Ring in the New Year

The National WWII Museum

NEW ORLEANS (October 24, 2012) – The National WWII Museum marks the next phase of its $325 million expansion as it readies the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center for its public opening on Sunday, January 13. Called “A Salute to Freedom,” the opening marks a long weekend of celebration as an array of VIPs, veterans and young scholars from every state in the union and the District of Columbia gather in New Orleans for the occasion just weeks before the city plays host to Super Bowl XLVII.

Attending will be members of the national news media, political leaders, corporate presidents, student historians and hundreds of military heroes from WWII and subsequent wars, as well as from all branches of service. They will join National WWII Museum President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, at special private previews over the course of three days that will showcase the institution and its vast collection of WWII artifacts.

“We are the nation’s WWII museum,” Mueller said. “And with the opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, we’ll have even more to display to our community, our visitors and the world. It will be an exciting and emotional event.”

A private Grand Opening Gala on Friday, January 11, will kick off the weekend festivities at The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Saturday, January 12, will feature a dedication for invited guests. Sunday, January 13, the pavilion opens for standard hours of operation save for Final Mission: The USS Tang Submarine Experience. All exhibits will be open to the public Monday, January 14.

The $35 million US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center will feature a variety of artifacts that comprised the “big guns” of American military might. These include the B-17E Flying Fortress and B-25J Mitchell bomber, as well as a SBD-3 Dauntless dive-bomber, TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, P-51D Mustang fighter and Corsair F4U-4 fighter. The pavilion also will include a massive wall honoring WWII Medal of Honor recipients and an interactive submarine experience based on the final mission of the USS Tang. Exhibits will employ the newest digital technologies to ensure a thrilling journey into the heart of the American Spirit.

Funds for the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center came from a $20 million Congressional grant through the United States Department of Defense and a $15 million gift from The Boeing Company. This gift from Boeing, which built the B-17, represents the largest private contribution the Museum has received to date. Funding for pavilion exhibits and artifact restoration has been provided by several private donors.

“The swift progress that has been made on this project is emblematic of the unity of spirit, dedication and selfless hard work that won the war on the battlefronts and on the Home Front seven decades ago,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “It is great to see the vision of the Museum’s founders come to life as we move quickly toward the opening of this world-class museum as a place where future visitors can gain a fuller appreciation of what so many Americans achieved in World War II and can reflect on what today’s generation of war fighters continue to do for us every day.”

“Industrial leadership was essential to winning the war effort,” Mueller added.

“Activity on the Home Front was vital to the Allied victory in World War II, and Boeing was at the epicenter of that industrial movement, producing more than 19,000 B-17s, B-29s and other essential aircraft,” the Museum president said. “The B-17 and other artifacts to be displayed in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center represent the nation’s tremendous industrial capacity and American wartime ingenuity.”

Celebrants will inaugurate the new pavilion even as another, Campaigns of Courage: European & Pacific Theaters rises on the Museum’s campus. Campaigns of Courage is scheduled to open in early 2014 and will house two gallery-filled floors which examine the Allied campaigns around the globe. The Liberation Pavilion (scheduled to open in 2016) will focus on the closing months of the war and immediate post-war years and contain an expansive special exhibits gallery. The buildings are part of the Museum’s “Last Campaign” effort to raise the last $100 million needed to complete the New Orleans campus before WWII veterans pass from the scene. Upon completion, the Museum will directly sustain more than 300 jobs and generate $100 million each year in positive economic impact.

“We recently welcomed our three millionth visitor to the Museum,” Mueller said. “We’re the number one destination in New Orleans for tourists according to Tripadvisor.com, and a vital engine driving the renewal of our city. So our new pavilion’s opening will also be a celebration of the Museum’s unique and transformational role in the life New Orleans.”

Education is the focus of the Museum. Exposing younger generations to the accomplishments and lessons of the WWII generation remains the top mission of the institution. Case in point – the nationwide assemblage of student scholars.

As part of a unique partnership with The Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, The National WWII Museum will host the “Salute to Freedom” contest winners. Each winner and an adult chaperone is receiving an all-expense-paid trip to New Orleans to represent their states and help celebrate the grand opening. The competition was open to all students in grades 6-12 who qualified for the National History Day Contest in College Park, Maryland where the winners were announced on June 14.

“It has always been the mission of The National WWII Museum to teach younger generations about the significant sacrifices made during World War II, which helped secure the many freedoms they enjoy today,” said Mueller. “Each of the students selected for the ‘Salute to Freedom’ award will have demonstrated an awareness of the past and its connection to the future as well as his or her state’s role in WWII, including specific people, initiatives and industries that contributed to the war effort overseas and on the Home Front.”

Exhibit design for the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center is provided by Gallagher & Associates. The firm Voorsanger Mathes, LLC is the architect for the pavilion and the general contractor is Woodward Design + Build, LLC.

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