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Marine museum still expanding after 2 million visitors

By Potomac Local News October 4, 2010 12:03 am

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National Museum of the Marine Corps (Mary Davidson)

Triangle, Va. –– Officials at the National Museum of the Marine Corps celebrated a silent victory late this summer, as they welcomed its 20 millionth visitor.

That visitor was a Fairfax County school administrator who brought her two grandchildren, museum curators told the Washington Post.

The museum is only four-years-old, and curators know they have to continually update exhibits to keep visitors coming back, and to attract new ones.

The museum added three new galleries in June, to tell the history of the Marine Corps from its beginnings in 1775 through World War I.

Because the museum has ample room to expand more projects and exhibits have been planned to occupy 80,000 square feet of the museum.

The museum credits the expansion to a $105 million fundraising campaign in which curators and museum officials helped to create a special brand for the museum – telling the story of U.S. history, marketing it to crowds Washington and Northern Virginia, where history is alive and well.

The new exhibits will feature the early history of the Civil War, and a look at global expeditions during the early 19th century and during World War I.

The World War I exhibit will feature the Battle of Belleau Woods, fought for 26 days in France in 1918.

When a French officer told Marines to back off their attack, Capt. Lloyd Williams uttered his famous quote – “Retreat? Hell, we just got here” – which will be featured in the exhibit.

The museum sits off U.S. 1 in Triangle and is the centerpiece of a revitalization effort underway in that neighborhood, which includes roadway improvements and a new mixed use commercial and residential neighborhood.

Though those improvements have been slow to come, officials say at least the road improvements are on track.

The museum is open every day except Christmas, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free.