NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With eight projects under construction and 16 more on the drawing board, the National World War II Museum is about to take over 3 ½ square blocks in the city's Central Business District.
Two new structures are being added to the museum campus to provide additional exhibition space, classrooms, a library offices and retail.
The museum has started building the Hall of Democracy, a $33 million three-story pavilion for academic and outreach programs and additional exhibit space.
Work is also underway on the nearly $12 million Bollinger Canopy of Peace. The Canopy will symbolize the hope and promise unleashed by the end of WWII hostilities.
Museum officials say the 150-foot-tall structure will also unify the diverse campus in the enduring spirit of the wartime slogan, "We're all in this together!"
"The second phase of the Hall of Democracy project will be let for bids early next year and construction will take about 17 month to complete," Bob Farnsworth, senior vice president of capital programs said.
"The museum plans to raise $370 million for the expansion program with $262.8 million already secured and $107.2 million to be raised," Farnsworth said. "Eight projects are under construction, totaling about $27 million, and $80 million in projects are in the planning and design stage."
One of the biggest projects in the planning and design stage is a $66 million hotel adjacent to a 450-space, multistory parking garage in the museum complex.
A new exhibit is planned for the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion that tell the story of the Home Front and the road to war, drawing on personal narratives and evocative artifacts to highlight facets of American life during the WWII era.
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. The museum plans to have the exhibit open by June of next year.
In December 2015, the National World War II Museum opened its newest permanent exhibit, "Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries."
The Road to Tokyo retraces events from the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor through bloody Pacific engagements to the atomic bombs dropped in Japan. It features more than 400 artifacts, including a shark-faced P-40 Warhawk aircraft, and explores the evolving American strategy for fighting relentless Japanese forces in Asia and the Pacific.
The Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation recently committed a $3 million gift to the museum. Museum CEO Gordon Mueller said the donation will support integrating Bob Hope's wartime legacy comprehensively throughout the museum's campus. Hope, who died in 2003, performed for troops from World War II until the Gulf War. The museum plans to include a special exhibit, a documentary about Hope's achievements and a film series honoring his legacy.
The museum also will make photographs, artifacts and other archival materials about Hope available through its digital collections at ww2online.org.
The museum, which is just over 300,000 square feet, was recognized recently as a winner in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards for museums, ranking No.4 in the nation and No.11 in the world.
About 500,000 visitors have walked through the museum so far this year and since it opened approximately 5.34 million have toured the museum complex.
The National D-Day Museum opened June 6, 2000. Congress designated it the National World War II Museum three years later.
National World War II Museum, www.nationalww2museum.org
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