The life of entertainer Bob Hope, especially the time he spent visiting American soldiers during World War II, will be celebrated in an exhibit at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, 300 W. Broad St. in Columbus.

Clarification: Parking at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum is free only for veterans, active military personnel and Gold Star Family members, according to the museum. The Jan. 23 print version of this story did not clearly state for whom parking was free.

The life of entertainer Bob Hope, especially the time he spent visiting American soldiers during World War II, will be celebrated in an exhibit at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, 300 W. Broad St. in Columbus.

“So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope” will be at the museum from Jan. 31 to April 17.

The exhibit features photographs, artifacts and multimedia “to highlight how Hope helped lift the human spirit” during wartime, said Tammy Brown, marketing and communications manager for the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

It will be the first time the exhibit has traveled from its home at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, where it debuted May 25, 2018, according to organizers.

After closing in Columbus, the exhibit will move to New York City and then to the West Coast.

“Our initial plan is for two venues a year for three years,” said Kim Guise, assistant director of curatorial services of the National World War II Museum.

“We can’t express how exciting it is to be the first stop of the national tour of this exhibit,” said Andy Cloyd, associate director of visitor experience for the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, which opened in October 2018 at the former site of the Franklin County Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

The $82 million facility was built by the Columbus Downtown Development Corp., he said.

The new exhibit tells the story, in words, pictures, audio and video, of the hundreds of shows that Hope and his troupe performed at military bases across the United States and overseas during World War II, Cloyd said.

“Our team went to the National World War II Museum (in May 2019) and talked out the possibility of the exhibit being shown in our museum,” he said.

The National World War II Museum already was considering a traveling exhibit, Cloyd said.

“By September, we had a plan in place,” he said.

The National World War II Museum opened June 6, 2000, as the National D-Day Museum, Guise said. The museum’s focus was on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed on beaches in Normandy, France, and began an inland assault that, the next year, helped end World War II.

In 2004, a Congressional designation rebranded it as the National World War II Museum, said Guise, who joined the staff in 2008.

The Hope exhibit is a partnership among the museum, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, and the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation.

After Hope’s death in 2003 at age 100, his assets were dispersed to the many places that had intimate ties to the man who had a performing career that spanned eight decades, as well as recreational activities that included golf, Guise said.

Parts of the museum’s exhibit were donated by the World Golf Hall of Fame, and the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation provided other parts of the exhibit, Guise said.

“We have some really fantastic pieces,” she said, and at least one item never before has been publicly displayed.

“(Hope) received a lot of thank-you gifts from service members,” she said.

Items on display will include an airplane propeller with a brass plaque from service members at Minter Field, now the Shafer Airport, in Shafer, California, thanking Hope for his show.

Hope performed at bases all across the U.S., broadcasting the shows live on the NBC Radio Network, and starred on “The Pepsodent Show,” which was broadcast from 1938 to 1948 on the network, Guise said.

“Wherever he went, he would ask a few service members about themselves and even ask about their commander, usually taking the opportunity to poke a little fun,” she said. “He performed overseas, too, on his own time.”

The latter trips included England, North Africa and Sicily in 1943 and island-hopping in the Pacific Ocean in summer 1944, Guise said.

The National Veterans Memorial and Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Admission is free for veterans and active military personnel. Adult admission is $17. Free parking is available for veterans, active military personnel and Gold Star Family members.

For more information, go to nationalvmm.org.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo