The National World War II Museum has received $20 million -- the biggest private gift in its 15-year history -- from Donald "Boysie" Bollinger, the former chairman and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards Inc., and his wife, Joy.
The donation, which was announced Tuesday (March 24) at the museum, will be split three ways, Boysie Bollinger said:
- $10 million will underwrite a triangular steel and fiberglass canopy that will hover 150 feet above the Warehouse District campus and be called the Canopy of Peace.
- $4 million will go to the museum's endowment.
- $6 million represents the museum's standard naming-rights fee. In this case, the name of the museum's Stage Door Canteen has been changed to BB's Stage Door Canteen, adding the nickname by which the Bollingers' grandchildren refer to their grandfather.
Since that component of the museum already has been built, the museum can use that part of the gift for other expenditures, Bollinger said during the announcement ceremony, which was held on the canteen's stage.
"This is a truly historic gift that will have an enormous impact," said Richard Adkerson, chairman of the museum's board.
The most visible component of the Bollingers' gift will be the canopy, which will be 448 feet long and 126 feet wide and feature fiberglass slats he called sails. It is scheduled to be complete in 2017.
Bart Voorsanger, the architect who designed it, said it will not only unify the buildings on the museum's Warehouse District campus but also symbolize a protective canopy over the troops that fought in World War II.
'This is a truly historic gift that will have an enormous impact,' -- Richard Adkerson, National WWII Museum
The museum's mission "isn't about celebrating war," Voorsanger said. "It's about celebrating peace and freedom."
The canopy represents "the finishing touch" for the museum complex, said Bollinger, a former chairman of the museum's board.
Bollinger, who sold the family shipyard business in December, said he was motivated to make the donation after the Boeing Co. gave $15 million to erect the museum building known as the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
Although the couple's gift represents a record for the museum, Boysie Bollinger said he hopes it will motivate others to give even more.
Gordon "Nick" Mueller, the museum's president and CEO, said the master plan calls for two more buildings: the Liberty Pavilion and the Hall of Democracy.
Each is expected to cost about $25 million, he said, and the goal is to complete them by 2018, in time for New Orleans' tricentennial.
About $12 million has been raised for the Liberty Pavilion, he said, but fundraising for the Hall of Democracy hasn't begun. Money will come from private and public sources, museum spokeswoman Kacey Hill said.
Bart Voorsanger is a Life Member of SAH.
Read more about the National World War II Museum here