January 23, 2017

McKenna Young
484-385-2913 (office)
[email protected]

The National WWII Museum Opens New Founders Plaza Along Andrew Higgins Drive

Museum completes formal entryway to campus, names American Spirit Bridge to recognize Horatio Alger Association’s generous support

NEW ORLEANS (January 23, 2017) – To unify the campus and create a formal entry to Museum grounds, The National WWII Museum has completed a dramatic new Founders Plaza, which spans Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp and Magazine Streets. The Plaza creates an impressive entryway to the institution’s grounds, safe passage for guests, and a pleasant setting for rest and reflection as part of the visitor experience. On January 26, during a private ceremony, the Museum will dedicate the Plaza and unveil the Horatio Alger Association American Spirit Bridge.

As The National WWII Museum moves closer to the conclusion of its $370 million capital expansion, steps are being taken to also beautify the shared exterior spaces between the new elements: large Nuttall oak trees line Founders Plaza, providing color in the fall and shade in the summer. Additionally, historic-style street lights have been installed to assist with nighttime pedestrian access and safety year-round. Paving stones are also scattered throughout the Plaza to recognize treasured Museum donors and honorees.

Founders Plaza, together with the existing Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground, also honors the WWII legacy of notable figures with one-of-a-kind tribute benches, each composed of a cut-stone slab and a bronze, lifesize statue. The Plaza features a Founders Recognition panel, paying tribute to the story of the Museum’s establishment by founder Stephen E. Ambrose, PhD, and founding president Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD.

“This great institution was created based on Steve’s ambition; he was determined to honor the legacy of the servicemembers who defended our nation’s freedom,” said Mueller. “The Museum’s capital expansion has funded new pavilions, new infrastructure and groundbreaking new exhibitry, which have all multiplied the Museum’s size and visitation numbers over nearly 17 years. As I look back on how far we’ve come, I’m honored to open this Plaza as a tribute to our humble beginnings.”

In addition to the Founders Plaza dedication, the institution will also officially unveil the new name of the Museum’s American Spirit Bridge, now the Horatio Alger Association American Spirit Bridge, during the January 26 ceremony. A national nonprofit educational organization supporting outstanding students who, in the face of great personal adversity, exhibit an abiding commitment to continuing their education and serving their communities, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $125 million through its college scholarship programs over the past three decades.  The Association scholarships are privately funded by Horatio Alger Members, successful business and civic leaders who have also overcome challenges on their road to professional and personal success. The Bridge’s new name recognizes the pledge of $3.5 million made to the Museum by individual Horatio Alger Members in honor of the Association, while the Bridge itself represents the connection both organizations share: working to celebrate the American spirit while also honoring individuals for their bravery and determination.

“My fellow Members and I are honored to support The National World War II Museum in recognizing the heroes who served our country during WWII,” said Tony Novelly, chairman, Horatio Alger Association. “Over 200 of our Members are also veterans, with more than half serving in WWII. Dedicating a permanent structure, such as the American Spirit Bridge and Exhibit, honors the bravery, courage and perseverance of these individuals – and all WWII veterans.  On behalf of the Association, this is a powerful and meaningful moment in which Horatio Alger Members share.” 

Following the dedication ceremony, the newly reopened Andrew Higgins Drive will remain a drivable thoroughfare. The street will be lined with stainless steel retractable bollards in addition to fixed bollards, creating an easy means for managing traffic flow during special events. The street’s drainage system was replaced with an entirely new collection system, using a subsurface retention system that will return a percentage of captured water into the ground.

The project was designed in collaboration with the New Orleans Department of Public Works and is funded by The National WWII Museum.

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit


About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, the Association awards more than $12 million annually in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada and provides college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $125 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit