The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 2011
Reconstruction of the James Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury complex, funded by a gift from Forrest E. Mars Jr.
Native American history is at the center of one of the foundation's Electronic Field Trips broadcast to millions each year.
A teacher visits the Print Shop during a Teacher Institute summer session, when scores of history and social studies educators come to Williamsburg to learn new techniques and methods.
Citizenship lies at the core of the foundation's mission: a young girl celebrates at the annual naturalization ceremony in the Historic Area for those becoming citizens.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation gained more donor support in 2011, enjoyed record success in educational Internet and technology initiatives, welcomed a growing number of guests to its museums, expanded collaborations and partnerships, and pushed toward finishing reconstruction of the James Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury complex.
About 1.7 million guests visited the Historic Area, roughly as many as the year before. The count is based on a formula that compares visits to Colonial Williamsburg's open setting with attendance at gated sites, and accounts for the length of stay associated with one-day, two-day, and annual passes, as well as special experience tickets. The foundation sold 670,500 general admission tickets compared with 686,000 in 2010, and 212,000 for evening programs and carriage rides compared with 218,000 in 2010.
More than 875,000 new and repeat guests passed through the remodeled Regional Visitor Center. A new custom-built, interactive kiosk presented Historic Triangle attractions, lodging, and restaurants, as well as shopping and recreation opportunities.
Nearly 1.6 million people rode Colonial Williamsburg's buses compared with 1.7 million in 2010. The buses also shuttled 123,000 passengers to Busch Gardens, Jamestown, and Yorktown, 4,000 fewer than the year before.
Condé Nast Traveler magazine included the Colonial Houses—Historic Lodging hotel properties on its 2011 "Best of the World" list, and its readers ranked the Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge among the top resorts in the mainland United States. Forbes Travel Guide named the Inn a four-star hotel, one of only three in Virginia.
The Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums, among the most visited in Virginia, attracted 211,500 guests in 2011, a 1% increase, and introduced exhibitions of early American maps and prints, fashion and accessories from 1600 to 1840, the 1790-1820 furniture of John Shearer, clay masterworks of North Carolina earthenware, and The Old Plantation, a rare eighteenth-century watercolor depicting slave life.
Archaeological discovery of a Revolutionary War-era tinsmith works at the Anderson site inspired Forrest E. Mars Jr. to support the shop's reconstruction and endowment, adding to his underwriting of R. Charlton's Coffeehouse and the Armoury. When complete, the Armoury site will tell the story of the complexity of mounting a war effort against the world's most powerful eighteenth-century empire.
Educational outreach media and teacher development programs engaged new audiences. More than 1,500 teachers attended workshops on-site, off-site, and online. The Emmy Award-winning Electronic Field Trip series broadcast to an audience of six million viewers in forty-nine states and Canada. For Constitution Day, Colonial Williamsburg gave complimentary access to 5,700 schools and families for A More Perfect Union, an EFT about the document's ratification.
The foundation's Web sites logged 8.5 million visits, 12% more than in 2010, and four million podcast and vodcast downloads. Colonial Williamsburg Connect, a new online American history, citizenship, and democracy program for the general public, enabled online visitors to explore and discuss American history and twenty-first-century responsibilities as citizens through webcast presentations and discussion forums.
Nearly 3,800 individuals followed the foundation on Twitter, an increase of more than 2,300, and Facebook fans grew to 44,000 by year end. A Duke of Gloucester Street "flash mob" performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir generated nearly 170,000 views on YouTube and nationwide news media attention.
Thousands of guests at December's annual Grand Illumination fireworks enjoyed extended hours, more convenient refreshment stands, and special kits containing blankets and glow sticks, as well as a new mobile site to help plan their visit and share their experience in real time on social media.
Revquest: Sign of the Rhinoceros™, a historically based alternate reality game enabled families to engage with each other, history, and the Historic Area by challenging participants to solve a mystery and avert a crisis that could alter the course of the Revolutionary War. Players started online before reaching Williamsburg, and upon arrival interacted with interpreters and clues communicated through personal mobile technology. More than 10,000 guests of all ages played. The success led to planning of a new edition of RevQuest for 2012.
The foundation enlivened the guest experience through such additional opportunities as the Fun Zone at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites, Live after Five programming in the Historic Area, Salute to the Nation on summer Friday nights featuring Colonial Williamsburg's Fifes and Drums and fireworks, expanded "in the moment" presentations in the Historic Area, and creative museum exhibitions.
Collaborations and Partnerships
Colonial Williamsburg and Preservation Virginia's Historic Jamestowne collaborated in support of the world-class archaeology conducted at the site of England's first permanent New World outpost. There were new opportunities for interpretive programs, as guests saw settler sites unearthed and dramatic presentations telling the stories of Jamestown's struggles to survive.
A partnership with the Chautauqua Institution and the Smithsonian created the symposium "Storm on the Horizon: Slavery, Disunion, and the Roots of the Civil War," convened in Williamsburg. The foundation presented a weeklong series on the subject at Chautauqua as part of that institution's summer program.
Partnerships with the Virginia Arts Festival, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Williamsburg Symphonia, and An Occasion for the Arts expanded arts opportunities for guests and residents.
In a planned transition, Thomas F. Farrell II assumed leadership of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation board of trustees in November 2011, having been elected vice chairman and chairman-elect the year before. Richard G. Tilghman, who had been chairman, stepped down, joining Charles R. Longsworth and George B. Beitzel as a chairman emeritus.
Farrell is chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources, Inc., headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. He became a foundation trustee in 2006.
Leslie A. Miller of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, joined the trustees in 2011. An attorney in private practice, Miller is an advisor to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and was the first woman to serve as general counsel of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and as president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She and Richard B. Worley, her husband and a senior trustee, funded the Leslie Anne Miller and Richard B. Worley Gallery in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and have supported interpretive programming in the Historic Area.
Also in 2011, Afsaneh Beschloss, president and chief executive officer of the Rock Creek Group and former chief investment officer of the World Bank, retired from the board after twelve years of service and became a senior trustee.