- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2006

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4:48 p.m.

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An estimated 2,000 visitors were expected to pass through the National Museum of the Marine Corps today, the first day the new facility has been open to the public.

The doors opened early today and the first visitor received a commemorative coin from retired Maj. Gen. Donald Gardner, president of Marine Corps University.

Museum director Lin Ezell said opening day went smoothly.

“It may have been our first day open to the public, but we’ve been practicing since Oct. 21 with visitors on a limited basis,” said Mrs. Ezell.

Rachel Clark, assistant to the director, said museum traffic had been steady all day. By 3 p.m. yesterday 1,781 guests were counted, and Mrs. Ezell expected the day’s attendance to be around 2,000.

Veterans Day weekend was also a busy time for the musuem, from Friday’s dedication to veteran and military family tours on Saturday and Sunday. Mrs. Ezell said 12,178 visitors came inside over the weekend.

Numbers like that could keep the museum on track to meet its expected 250,000 to 600,000 visitors per year.

“If we get half a million our first year, I’ll be delighted,” said Mrs. Ezell.

Mrs. Ezell thought the three immersive exhibits of Iwo Jima, Chosin Reservoir and Hill 881 South were the most popular among visitors. The Mess Hall cafeteria and Tun Tavern, a recreation of the Philadelphia tavern where the first Marines were allegedly recruited on Nov. 10, 1775, were also popular with the crowds.

The museum was dedicated Friday by President George Bush as part of ceremonies celebrating the Marine Corps’ 231st birthday.

The admission-free museum is open to the public every day of the year except Christmas from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Located just outside the Quantico Marine Corps Base between Interstate 95 and Route 1, the 118,000 square-foot structure is visible from I-95.

Exhibits that were open Monday (Nov. 13) included “Legacy Walk,” a timeline of Marine history; “Making Marines,” a boot camplike experiential exhibit; era galleries highlighting WWII, Korea and Vietnam; “Global War on Terrorism,” a temporary gallery that chronicles Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places Marines are currently stationed; and “Combat Art,” an art gallery comprised of artwork created by Marines.

“We are giving the general visitor an opportunity to put his or her feet in places where Marines have gone before,” said Mrs. Ezell. “It’s an experience that is not about generals and epic battles, but about every individual Marine doing his or her job.”

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