Four ways New Orleans is better than before Katrina

3. National museum project diversifies city’s tourism

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    This artist rendering provided by Boeing shows what the US Freedom Pavilion will look like upon completion. New Orleans tourism has diversified since hurricane Katrina.
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New Orleans has long attracted tourists through its regional heritage: Mardi Gras parades, Bourbon Street, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and of course, seafood.

But it never before had a world-class landmark like the National World War II Museum, which became the first new cultural institution to open post-Katrina, breathing life into the city’s struggling warehouse district and attracting a more diverse pool of global tourists who may not feel the need to collect parade beads or prowl the French Quarter after hours.

Just like the star power associated with it since its opening in 2009 – Tom Hanks remains one of the museum’s biggest boosters – the museum campus is vast, covering six acres or five city blocks. A $300 million expansion project will quadruple the facilities, housing research collections, oral histories, education exhibits, and, scheduled to open in 2012, a $35 million pavilion that will house a restored Boeing B-17.

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