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Museums: Colonial Williamsburg Reports Improved Ticket Sales, Fundraising Results and Endowment Performance in 2010


The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation achieved increased ticket sales in 2010, recorded higher fundraising results and reported strong endowment performance.

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Colonial Williamsburg’s key operating and investment results for 2010 show improvements in nearly all categories:

  • 686, 000 paid general admission tickets, an increase of nearly 4 percent, for a “visitor gate count” of 1.7 million
  • Annual Fund support of $14.3 million, 2 percent higher than 2009
  • Endowment increased in value by $33 million to a market value of $735 million
  • Electronic Field Trips reached more than 2, 000 registered schools and home-school families for an estimated audience of six million viewers
  • Web “visits” were approximately 25.6 million, a 5 percent increase
  • Foundation contributions to the community were in excess of $260, 000


Colonial Williamsburg recorded 686, 000 paid general admission tickets in 2010, an increase of nearly 4 percent over 2009.

The “visitor gate count” for 2010 was 1.7 million, essentially unchanged from 2009. The gate count formula, which compares total visitation to the open setting of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area with attendance at gated or turnstile sites, is based on the length of stay associated with a particular ticket. Colonial Williamsburg offers one-day, two-day and annual passes, as well as a variety of special experience tickets. Tickets for evening programs and carriage rides in 2010 totaled 218, 000 compared with 244, 000 the prior year.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg continue to be among the most-visited in Virginia with attendance of 210, 000 or 1 percent higher than the prior year. Ridership on Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area buses held steady at nearly 1.7 million. In addition, the buses provided shuttle service for 95, 000 passengers to the other Historic Triangle sites of Jamestown and Yorktown, up from 83, 000 in 2009.

These results were achieved amidst several significant “external” challenges in 2010, including an uncertain economy as the nation began to emerge from a deep recession, and weather events including an unusually snowy winter and a summer marked by record-breaking heat.

“While there are still significant challenges to meet and overcome, I am encouraged by the Foundation’s results in 2010 as they show that Colonial Williamsburg’s imaginative programs and compelling experiences are resonating with visitors and guests, ” said Colin Campbell, president of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Creative programming, special exhibits, attractive promotions and partnerships were communicated effectively through a range of channels and media. Importantly, the Foundation now has close to 12, 000 Facebook fans and maintains an active presence on YouTube and Twitter.”


Annual giving to Colonial Williamsburg reached $14.3 million, a 2 percent increase over the prior year. The number of donors in 2010 was more than 108, 000 households including 17, 565 families making a gift to the Foundation for the first time. Supporters from all 50 states made contributions, with Virginia households making up 16 percent of the donor base.

“We are especially grateful for the more than 2, 800 families in the Williamsburg area who contributed to Colonial Williamsburg last year, ” said Campbell. “Our donors responded generously in 2010 and increased giving at a time when competition for charitable dollars is intense and the condition of the economy can be a disincentive to giving.”


The market value of Colonial Williamsburg’s endowment was $735 million as of Dec. 31, 2010, an increase of $33 million over the 2009 year-end value, even after $50 million of planned withdrawals during the year to support operations and routine capital expenditures. The endowment achieved a total return of 13.4 percent, reflecting a diversified investment strategy and improvements in financial markets.

Interactive Outreach

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation continues to be a national leader in developing educational resources for American history and civics education through the Internet, interactive television and new technologies including the “Idea of America, ” a fully digital, Web-based curriculum for high school students. In 2010, there were 1, 640 participants in Colonial Williamsburg’s on-site and off-site teacher institutes and workshops, with teachers attending from 30 states and the District of Columbia. The award-winning series of Electronic Field Trips was seen by an estimated audience of six million viewers in 49 states and Canada. The series reached students and teachers in more than 2, 000 registered schools and home-school families. Colonial Williamsburg’s combined Web sites recorded approximately 25.6 million “visits” in 2010, a 5 percent increase from 2009. The Foundation’s main blogging site,, recorded 911, 000 visits, a 68 percent increase over 2009. There were 2.3 million downloads of the Foundation’s 52 podcasts and 11 vodcasts in 2010.

“The technology-based programs produced for teachers and students across the nation are critical to the achievement of the Foundation’s educational mission in the 21st century, ” said Campbell. “Internet, social media, publishing and conferencing initiatives are enlarging the audience that is aware of and participating in the extraordinary range and contemporary relevance of Colonial Williamsburg’s offerings.”

Community Contributions

While a not-for-profit organization, Colonial Williamsburg continued to play a leading corporate citizenship role in 2010. For more than 60 years, Colonial Williamsburg has served as a pacesetter organization in the Greater Williamsburg United Way campaign. In 2010, Colonial Williamsburg and its employees, volunteers and retirees partnered to contribute more than $220, 000 to the United Way. The Foundation also provides volunteer hours, materials, facilities and other in-kind support to the United Way.

Additionally, Colonial Williamsburg contributed more than $40, 000 in cash, services, products and other in–kind contributions to a host of other charitable organizations that have either a shared educational mission or perform work to improve the lives of people in the Williamsburg community.

With the Foundation’s support, numerous volunteer hours are provided by Colonial Williamsburg employees to a number of local groups, including a variety of local governing bodies, committees and commissions, and charitable organizations.

“One of the core stories we tell on a daily basis in our programming involves the role and responsibilities of citizenship, ” said Campbell. “Participating constructively in and supporting one’s community are part of being a good citizen and I am grateful to and proud of our employees, volunteers and retirees who help make our community a better place for residents, workers and visitors.”

Outlook for 2011

“Be part of the story resonated with guests last year and will continue to be our marketing theme for 2011, ” said Campbell. “Through our communications, we invite potential visitors to experience all that we offer: immersing in the 18th-century revolutionary city that is the Historic Area, engaging with our interpreters and trades, exploring our art museums and enjoying all of our hospitality offerings.”

New Programming in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area

The reconstruction of James Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury in the Historic Area is well under way, and the ongoing reconstruction and archeology is of growing interest to guests. This is the second significant recent reconstruction in the Historic Area and complements the interpretive program at R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse which has attracted nearly 100, 000 visitors since opening in 2009.

New interpretive programs at the Palace and the Capitol are more interactive, placing visitors in key “moments in history.” This summer, Revolutionary City performances will be geared toward the family audience with opportunities for young people to participate in the Revolution. In addition, a new game, REVQUEST, is being designed for kids between the ages of 8-12. The quest starts online and ends in the Historic Area—a fun new way for children to put themselves in the moment.

This summer, the Historic Area will be “Live after Five” as cressets are lit and programs and tavern dining are geared for families. Each Friday guests will gather on the Palace Green for music and singing and afterwards repair to Chowning’s Tavern for refreshments and games in the garden.

Two young actors will again be cast in Colonial Williamsburg’s Guest Artist program. These rising stars from the national stage perform alongside the Foundation’s talented actor/interpreters in dramatic performances in the Historic Area. Last year, award-winning actor Mamie Gummer performed as Colonial Williamsburg’s first guest artist in the role of Lady Dunmore, and in September Jesse Williams, a young actor from television’s “Grey’s Anatomy” appeared in “What the Future Holds.” Both programs attracted an audience of more than 1000 guests.

Institutional Partnerships: Telling the Story

The themes of Discovery, Democracy and Diversity are at the heart of new programs planned for this year at Historic Jamestowne in partnership with Preservation Virginia. The important history of the first English settlement in the New World links to the establishment of the colonial capital in Williamsburg. This compelling narrative about our nation’s early history is underscored by the dramatic archeological discoveries at the site of the original fort, demonstrating the historical significance of the region and its importance to prospective visitors.

With the start of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War, Colonial Williamsburg presents Storm on the Horizon: Slavery, Disunion and the Roots of the Civil War in partnership with the Chautauqua Institution and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture during President’s Day weekend, Feb. 18 – 19. The weekend will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gordon S. Wood and Alan Brinkley, professor of American history at Columbia University. In August, Colonial Williamsburg will participate in a similar program at Chautauqua.

Cultural Programming

Five new exhibitions open this year at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg including “Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe, ” featuring costumes accessories from the late 17th through the early 19th centuries. Currently on display an exhibit chronicles the re-building of R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse and another showcases the work of Colonial Williamsburg’s expert conservators. The exhibit, “Dollars, Farthings & Fables: Money and Medals from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection, ” draws heavily on the remarkable collection of early currency given in recent years by the family of Joseph and Ruth Lasser. The exhibit also features one of the Foundation’s newest acquisitions, nearly 7, 000 pieces of paper money amassed in the 1770s by North Carolina speculator Samuel Cornell. With the opening of each new exhibit, Colonial Williamsburg will open the museum to the community for special preview events.

Colonial Williamsburg’s partnership with the Virginia Arts Festival continues to grow with special concerts throughout the year at the Williamsburg Lodge and in the Historic Area. This year, the Winter Concert on Feb. 25 features two performances by Grammy-winning performer Shawn Colvin in the Virginia Room. March 5 the early music virtuosos Anonymous 4 perform at Bruton Parish Church. Festival Williamsburg’s Memorial Day weekend concerts include: Broadway star Jane Krakowski, jazz legend Chick Corea and the big band sound of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Tickets for all concerts can be purchased at

Special Events

In May, Colonial Williamsburg partners with the City of Williamsburg, the College of William and Mary, the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance and Fort Eustis for the inaugural “Run for the Dream” to benefit An Achievable Dream and the Wounded Warriors program. Thousands of running enthusiasts are anticipated in Williamsburg for a half-marathon, an 8K and related events. Colonial Williamsburg’s Woodlands Hotel is the official race hotel.

“With this exciting and diverse array of offerings and the continuing commitment of individuals across the Foundation to excellence in guest service, I am energized by the prospects for 2011 and beyond, ” said Campbell.

About The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5, 000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Photo credit: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va.

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