Philadelphia park to getnew visitors center
The Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia, home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and other shrines of U.S. history, is getting a grander visitor center.
In an unusual partnership, the $38-million Independence Visitor Center offers information about the National Park Service site and the Philadelphia area. Visitors can book hotel rooms, learn about hundreds of regional attractions, link up with park tours, view historical films and browse exhibits on the Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklin and other topics.
The center, at Sixth and Market streets across from the Liberty Bell, will replace the current park visitor center at Third and Chestnut streets and the city visitor center at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard. It will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
The center is part of a sweeping redesign that will remount the Liberty Bell in a new building and add a museum on the Constitution by 2003.
Contact (800) 537-7676 or www.independencevisitorcenter.com on the Web for more information.
Air Force Academy suffers downturn
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- The Air Force Academy, one of Colorado's most popular tourist attractions, is suffering substantial losses since the Sept. 11 attacks forced the gates to be closed to the public.
The military school typically sees about 1 million visitors every year. Its three gift shops generated $6.7 million in sales last year, and the $1 million in profits went to subsidize 27 sports teams.
The money pays for uniforms, equipment, traveling, officials and other sports-related costs.
Although the shops have remained open for the 4,000 cadets, sales have been off "dramatically," says spokesman David Howes. Howes wouldn't say how much of a hit the academy's athletic teams will take.
To make up for some of the loss, the academy has opened a retail shop at The Citadel mall to market its T-shirts, baseball caps, books, posters and other merchandise.
Called "Hometown Teams," the store is a joint venture between the academy and The Gazette of Colorado Springs. The Gazette is paying rent for the space and is also selling items to raise money for its newspapers in an education program, which provides free newspapers to schools. All proceeds from the sale of academy items will go to the academy.
People wanting to purchase academy merchandise can also shop at www.airforcestore.com on the Web.
In addition, the field house gift store is open to people attending basketball and hockey games, and a small stadium kiosk is available to those attending football games.
British institutionsto drop cover charges
The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of London, among other British institutions throughout the country, will soon be free to visitors.
The new policy, a result of changes in VAT rules, which now allow museums to reclaim VAT charges on their purchases, is to take effect Dec. 1, except at the Victoria and Albert, which began recently to coincide with the opening of 15 galleries covering British design from 1500 to 1900.
Many London attractions are already free, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum and the British Library.
The Museum of London will also unveil a permanent gallery next month, the World City Gallery, which will examine life in the capital between 1789 and 1914 with a display of 2,000 objects. It will occupy an entire floor.