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February 1, 2008

CW achieves continued growth in visitation, endowment and donor support

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation recorded its third consecutive year of increased ticket sales and higher fund-raising results, extending its reach and impact to larger audiences in 2007. Colonial Williamsburg recorded 780,000 paid admissions for 2007, up 5 percent over the prior year. The Foundation reported 745,000 paid admissions for 2006, which also represented 5 percent growth over the prior year.

The number of visitors to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and combined museums far exceeds the admission count, however. As an open-site without gate or turnstile as commonly used by most museums or parks to count guests, the Historic Area and combined museums record other indicators to provide a more comprehensive picture of total visitation. This additional information demonstrates more accurately the extent of participation in the Foundation’s programs and experiences:

  • Sales of evening programs tickets and carriage rides totaled more than 310,000 tickets, an increase of more than 3 percent over 2006. It is not necessary to have a general admission ticket to purchase evening program or carriage ride tickets; therefore, some guests choose this option and are not included in the traditional total paid admission figure.
  • The 780,000 admission figure represents the number of paid general admission tickets sold but applying a “turnstile count” approach to valuing those tickets, based on the length of stay associated with a particular ticket, total paid admission visits or “gate count” is estimated to be approximately 1.5 million. (The calculation method assigns a one day ticket a value of one visit day, a two day ticket a value of two visit days and annual pass or partnership tickets a value of three visit days. According to customer surveys, transaction data and other research, guests visit the Historic Area longer than the assigned ticket value because of the openness of the site and other considerations, so the calculation method is intentionally conservative.)
  • The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg visitation was 238,000 in 2007, placing it among the top 50 art museums in visitation nationwide and second in the state.
    Ridership on Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area buses totaled more than 2.2 million. In addition, Colonial Williamsburg’s buses provided shuttle service to nearly 175,000 passengers to the other Historic Triangle sites of Jamestown and Yorktown.

    “As a leading steward of American history and of the foundations of democracy and independence, Colonial Williamsburg occupies a special place among historic destinations,” said Foundation President Colin G. Campbell. “The manner in which we have traditionally reported our ticket sales understates our visitation. The additional information provides a fuller representation of Colonial Williamsburg’s reach and impact.”

    Foundation’s Endowment Reaches All Time High

    The market value of the Foundation’s endowment increased by 5 percent to more than $816 million in 2007, an all time high. During the year the endowment produced a net total return of 17.7 percent, which was well in excess of the 5.5 percent return of the Standard & Poor’s 500, a commonly used measure of the performance of the U.S. stock market.

    Colonial Williamsburg Attracts Record Number of Donors

    Individual contributors to the Foundation in 2007 surpassed the 100,000 mark for the sixth consecutive year, setting a new record of more than 118,000 donors from all 50 states. Gifts to the Colonial Williamsburg Annual Fund exceeded $14.8 million, more than 5 percent over 2006 results. The Colonial Williamsburg Fund provides ongoing support to priorities across the Foundation including educational outreach; the preservation of historic buildings, gardens, museum collections and rare documents; teacher training; and discounted student visits. Donor philanthropy has enabled Colonial Williamsburg to inspire generations of Americans—including millions of children—with a passion and excitement for history and the responsibilities of citizenship.

    Electronic Field Trips Reach Millions and Web Sites Achieve New Record

    As one of the nation’s leading educational resources for colonial American and Revolutionary War era history, Colonial Williamsburg uses the Internet and interactive television technology to bring the 18th century to life for students throughout the United States each year. Colonial Williamsburg’s award-winning Electronic Field Trip series broadcast on PBS stations and on the Internet reached school children and teachers in 49 states and three foreign countries for an estimated audience of approximately 6 million viewers. Colonial Williamsburg’s Web sites recorded more than 21 million visits, a 35 percent increase over 2006, establishing another new record.

    “Colonial Williamsburg is a leading forum for discussion, debate and understanding of democratic ideals and the revolutionary ideas that inspired the birth of our nation,” said Campbell. “As 2008 begins, we anticipate and welcome the opportunity to continue our tradition of engaging visitors from around the world interested in learning more about the origin of America and the relevance of the founding principles to the 21st century.”

    In 2007, Colonial Williamsburg was again host to a number of historic international events. In May, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip visited Colonial Williamsburg to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. In September, Colonial Williamsburg hosted the World Forum on the Future of Democracy, the culminating event of the quadricentennial commemoration, which brought together more than 400 invited delegates, including 85 international delegates representing 16 countries, plus students from the College of William and Mary, to discuss challenges and opportunities in the evolution of democracy around the world. In November, the Foundation and the “By The People” project team from MacNeil-Lehrer Productions co-hosted the culminating event in the “Dialogues in Democracy” program, a series of conversations about the roles and responsibilities of citizens in the 21st century. Sessions in the Colonial Capitol and other Colonial Williamsburg sites were recorded and subsequently aired on nearly 300 PBS stations nationwide.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” -- a daily dramatic live street theater presentation -- is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Tom Shrout
    (757) 220-7265

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