Stephen Watson, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the National World War II Museum spoke at the Chamber Luncheon Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Curtis Wright, president of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Realtors Association, attended the luncheon.
The WWII museum was recently recognized as one of the top five museum destinations in the country. Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards ranked the museum 4th in the nation and 11th in the world.
The top five include:
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Art Institute of Chicago
National 9/11 Memorial and Museum
National World War II Museum
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The WWII Museum remains the No. 1 attraction in New Orleans for the fourth consecutive year. Other top attractions in the City include St. Louis Cathedral, Royal Street and Frenchmen Street.
The institution closed fiscal year 2016 with nearly 700,000 visitors—an almost 15 percent increase from fiscal year 2015, which landed close to 600,000. The Museum’s membership—now at 147,000—is also the highest ever, increasing nearly 10 percent.
The Museum is in the midst of a $370 million expansion designed to take the visitor experience to even greater heights. Over $260 million has already been raised as the organization forges ahead with plans to open new galleries in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. Nine immersive galleries will recall prewar domestic debates, the attack on Pearl Harbor, military recruitment and training, treatment of minority groups, manufacturing efforts and the Manhattan Project.
Additional stages of the Museum’s expansion plan include construction of the Hall of Democracy pavilion to house academic and outreach programs and additional exhibit space, and building of the Liberation Pavilion, focusing on end-of-war and postwar experiences, as well as the war’s meaning for citizens today. To unify the six-acre campus and create a formal entry to Museum grounds, exterior improvements will include a Founders Plaza along Andrew Higgins Drive and the Bollinger Canopy of Peace, which will symbolize the hope and promise unleashed by the end of WWII hostilities.