Elvis’ Hometown Looking to Sell Its Elvis Connection Worldwide: Tourism officials from Tupelo, Mississippi—the birthplace of late Elvis Presley, who comprises the de facto sum and whole of the city’s tourism product—are taking off to sell both the city and the birthplace of the unofficial King of Rock and the city itself (population: around 35,000) at next week’s World Travel Market. They’ll also be making other stops in London as a part of the city’s most ambitious sales mission ever.
Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo CVB, has also been invited to take part in Elvis at the 02 (The O2 is a convention/exhibition center in London), which is promoted as the largest Elvis exhibition ever in Europe. The event, which is a direct-from-Graceland (Elvis’ mansion, which is now a major attraction in Memphis) product, was originally scheduled to run nine months ending last month, but it has been extended another three months because of its popularity.
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton is joining McCoy on the trip. They will fly to London on Sunday, Nov. 1 and return Nov. 13. McCoy told a local newspaper that the venture had been in the works for months, but that Tupelo didn’t get a final OK from Graceland until just recently.
At meetings with tour operators, the Tupelo delegation hopes to sell itself as a fly-drive destination. The city is less than 110 miles from Memphis and Graceland, where Elvis is buried. Memphis has good connections to U.S. international gateways via Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United.
Straight from MARS—A Unique Embassy Tour in Washington, DC: Based in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with an office in northern Virginia near the nation’s capital, Mid Atlantic Receptive Services (MARS) has developed a number of products unique to Washington, DC visitors. In particular is its three-day package that takes clients to the embassies of other countries during a period each spring during which countries from throughout the world open their embassies to the public. The program is overseen by Cultural Tourism DC.
Kate Scopetti, the founder and president of MARS—over the years it has developed both outbound and receptive product—told us that, once the participating embassies are announced, she works with Cultural Tourism DC and develops her itinerary, has her tour guides versed in the history and stories of each embassy on the tour, and arranges for the MARS tour to make a private visit to a selected embassy before public open-house hours.
A special appeal of the tour product—it also includes visits to historic buildings, museums and sites in Washington, D.C.—is that visitors do not have to depend on the shuttle service that takes the public from one embassy to another. Whatever the reason, the Embassy Open House Tour, Scopetti said “it has become a staple in our product line,” filling four to five busloads, mostly with seniors, each year. For more information visit www.takeafuntrip.com. Or, as we did, you can visit www.tapintotravel.com, the website of the Travel Alliance Partners (TAP), where we first learned of the Embassies tour. Scopetti’s MARS is a part of TAP.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Schedules April Reopening: After a two-and-a-half year closure for a multimillion dollar renovation and construction of a new addition, the massive San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will open on May 14, 2016. Buttressed by a $610 million fundraising campaign, the refurbished museum will have a new 10-story building addition, which will add 235,000 square feet to its existing 225,000-square-foot building.
Highlighting the museum’s exhibits will be works from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, including pieces by Alexander Calder and Chuck Close. Overall, the museum has acquired 3,000 works of art from more than 200 donors.
With the additional space, the facility will have a 45,000-square-foot ground floor that will have three different exhibition areas free and open to the public. There will also be an enhanced performance space and two education centers: the Koret Education Center and the Pritzker Center for Photography, which comprises a gallery, research and interpretive space. And the museum’s two-story conservation center features a living wall with over 15,000 plants. For more information, visit www.sfmoma.org, or call 415.357.4000.
New Holocaust Museum Opens in Seattle: After more than 25 years of going into classrooms and educating students about the lessons and horrors of the Holocaust, the Henry and Sandra Friedman Holocaust Center for Humanity, which is now open to the public. And rather than take its program into the classroom as it has in the past, the new, $3.4 million center combines a museum, classroom and office space, creating a place where students as well as the public can come to learn.
Founded by survivors living in the area, the center focuses on the stories of those locals. It is named after Henry Friedman, a retired business owner, who was hidden for 18 months in the barn of a young Ukrainian woman, narrowly avoiding being sent to a death camp. Stories of compassion like this are told to students and visitors.
Until the new center was built, the Holocaust Center for Humanity operated out of its own offices in the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building. The center has worked with middle- and high-school students around Washington state by providing boxes of teaching materials, visits from survivors, historical artifacts and teacher training.
Among that collection are the contents of the suitcase of someone deported to a camp, donated by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The center is one of only three museums in the United States to receive artifacts from that museum. This March, the center will receive an exhibit from The Anne Frank Center in New York. Next fall, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will bring an exhibit about medical experiments and ethics to the center.
For information on the cost of admission, as well as groups, visit www.holocaustcenterforhumanity.org, or call 206.582.3000.