Patriots Point launches interactive exhibit

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Oct. 21, 2013

Patriots Point launched an interactive exhibit aboard the USS Laffey today — the first of many hands-on exhibits that aim to engage visitors.

Visitors can enter the 5-foot gun mount interactive exhibit, close the door and watch a video of a Japanese plane approaching and then firing on them.

Patriots Point launched an interactive exhibit aboard the USS Laffey today. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

Patriots Point launched an interactive exhibit aboard the USS Laffey today. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

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It aims to help visitors understand what it was like for the six crew members inside who were killed during a kamikaze attack on April 16, 1945.

The gun mount will vibrate, and the sounds of gun fire will reverberate off the walls. The veterans’ stories will be shared.

“This is the best way to bring the experience of working that gun during an air attack to life,” Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette said in a statement. “Our visitors can look at static displays all day and try to imagine the fear and adrenaline rush these young men must have felt; but closing the door, cranking the sound on a video ... the scene is practically alive again 68 years later.”

The National Association of Destroyer Veterans, known as the Tin Can Sailors, funded the exhibit with a $10,000 grant. This first exhibit is part of the Patriots Point Development Authority’s three-year business plan to increase attendance and revenue.

Plans also include leasing of its remaining 50 acres for mixed-use projects. The revenue from leases could fund much needed and expensive restoration and maintenance of the decades-old ships, while revenue from exhibits could fund daily operations.

The museum’s new exhibits will include videos, firsthand accounts and hands-on interactions.

“It will create an emotional attachment between the visitor and the ship, and that’s how a returning visitor is created,” Burdette said.

Patriots Point Development Authority’s three-year business plan

  • Increase attendance revenue by 17%.
  • Increase revenue to $11.7 million annually by fiscal year 2016, up from $9.7 million in fiscal year 2012.
  • Increase ticket sales to 260,000 per year.
  • Increase campaign registrations to 24,000 per year.
  • Increase student enrollment in education to 20,000 per year.
  • Increase number of event rentals to 350 per year.
  • Increase monetary gifts to $500,000 per year by working with Patriots Point Foundation and USS Yorktown Foundation.
  • Increase property lease revenue to $1.84 million.

Source: Patriots Point Development Authority

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