National World War II Museum Expands
By Eileen Fleming
New Orleans, La. – The nightlife of New Orleans is famous around the world, but what about daytime activities? The city has more than 40 museums and year-round cultural events that also attract visitors. Marianne Marcell is a project manager at the University of New Orleans Division of Business and Economic Research. She's been studying the financial benefits the city can reap from what's being called cultural tourism.
She said the 7-point-six million visitors to the city last year generated more than $5 billion dollars. About 15 percent of those people are considered cultural tourists. And one big draw is the National World War Two Museum, which has expanded since it beginning as the D-Day Museum .
The World War Two Museum is this weekend marking a major expansion. Its president and chef executive officer is Nick Mueller.
Marcell said the benefits could spill over to other attractions.
The project began almost 20 years ago when Mueller and his friend, historian Stephen Ambrose, discussed the idea at a New Orleans barbecue.
Actor Tom Hanks will be unveiling the museum's latest attraction on Friday. It's a high-tech film he narrated called "Beyond all Boundaries." It's presented in a theater created especially for the film, which shows on a 120-foot-wide screen. It's promoted as a four-dimensional experience, with smoke and snowflakes and precision projection from nine digital cameras.
The film's creative director, Phil Hettema, said his father is a World War Two veteran, and his story is part of the narrative.
Museum officials hope that story will resonate with a young audience.
The museum is also unveiling the Stage Door canteen for musical reviews, and the American Sector restaurant under the supervision of chef John Besh. Mueller said plans call for even more expansions to continue through 2015.