The World War 2 Museum in New Orleans is a must-visit destination for history buffs and anyone interested in learning about one of the most significant events of the 20th century. With its extensive collection of artifacts, interactive exhibits, and immersive experiences, this museum offers a unique glimpse into the realities of life during wartime.
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The History of the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans
From a Small Collection to a National Museum
The National World War II Museum, formerly known as the D-Day Museum, was founded in 2000 by historian and author Stephen Ambrose. It began as a small collection of artifacts and personal stories from World War II veterans in New Orleans. The museum’s mission was to educate visitors about the significance of the war and its impact on American society.
Over time, the museum grew in size and scope, expanding its exhibits to cover all aspects of the war. Today, it is recognized as one of the top museums in the country, attracting over 700,000 visitors annually. The museum has also received numerous awards for its exhibits and educational programs.
Renaming to Reflect National Importance
In 2003, the museum changed its name from the D-Day Museum to The National World War II Museum. This change reflected the museum’s expanded focus beyond just D-Day and highlighted its role as a national institution dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of World War II.
The museum has continued to evolve since then with ongoing expansions and renovations. In 2018, it opened a new exhibit called “The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George Brown Salute to the Home Front,” which explores America’s industrial might during WWII.
World War 2 Museum Showcases Impact on Louisiana and the United States
Louisiana’s Role in WWII
The state of Louisiana played a significant role in World War II due to its strategic location near important ports and military bases. The National World War II Museum highlights this connection through several exhibits that showcase Louisiana’s contributions during wartime.
- The “Road to Tokyo” exhibit explores the Pacific Theater of Operations and the role of Louisiana-based Higgins Industries in building landing craft that were essential to the war effort.
- The “Arsenal of Democracy” exhibit highlights Louisiana’s industrial contributions during WWII, including the construction of Liberty ships at the Delta Shipbuilding Company in New Orleans.
- The “Louisiana Memorial Pavilion” includes a restored PT-305 patrol torpedo boat, which was built by Higgins Industries and used in combat during WWII.
The National World War II Museum also showcases the impact of the war on the United States as a whole. The museum’s exhibits cover topics such as propaganda, rationing, women’s roles in the war effort, and the experiences of soldiers on both the European and Pacific fronts.
One notable exhibit is “Beyond All Boundaries,” a 4D cinematic experience narrated by Tom Hanks that immerses visitors in the sights and sounds of World War II. The museum also features an extensive collection of artifacts, including weapons, uniforms, and personal items belonging to soldiers and civilians alike.
What Exhibits to Expect at the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans
Beyond All Boundaries
Beyond All Boundaries is a 4D cinematic experience that transports visitors into key battles throughout World War II. Narrated by Tom Hanks, this immersive film uses special effects such as snow falling from above and seats that rumble underfoot to create an unforgettable experience.
Road to Tokyo / Road to Berlin
The Road to Tokyo and Road to Berlin exhibits explore America’s involvement in both theaters of war. Visitors can see authentic artifacts such as planes, tanks, and field equipment while learning about key battles and strategies used during the war.
The Arsenal of Democracy
The Arsenal of Democracy exhibit showcases America’s industrial might during WWII. Visitors can see how factories across the country produced everything from tanks to airplanes, and learn about the contributions made by companies in Louisiana such as Higgins Industries.
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion includes a restored PT-305 patrol torpedo boat, which was built by Higgins Industries and used in combat during WWII. Visitors can also see other artifacts related to Louisiana’s role in the war effort, including weapons, uniforms, and personal items belonging to soldiers and civilians alike.
Evolution of the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans Over Time
Since its founding in 2000, The National World War II Museum has undergone several expansions and renovations. In 2009, it opened the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion, which allows visitors to see firsthand how museum staff restore and preserve artifacts from the war.
In 2013, the museum opened its US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, which features a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber hanging from the ceiling along with other aircraft from WWII. The following year saw the opening of the Campaigns of Courage pavilion, which explores individual stories of bravery and sacrifice during wartime.
The museum continues to add new exhibits on a regular basis. In 2018, it opened “The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George Brown Salute to the Home Front,” an exhibit that explores America’s industrial might during WWII.
In 2021, the museum will open a new exhibit called “Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann.” This exhibit will explore the story of how Israeli agents captured Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi official responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
Interactive Experiences and Educational Programs at the World War 2 Museum
The Victory Theater
The Victory Theater is a state-of-the-art venue that hosts live performances, film screenings, and educational programs related to World War II. It features a large screen and advanced sound system, creating an immersive experience for visitors.
The National World War II Museum offers several hands-on exhibits that allow visitors to interact with artifacts and learn more about life during wartime. For example, the “Campaigns of Courage” exhibit includes a recreated foxhole where visitors can experience what it was like for soldiers on the front lines.
The museum offers a variety of education programs for students and teachers. These include field trips, teacher workshops, and distance learning opportunities. The museum also offers professional development programs for educators who want to learn more about teaching World War II history.
COVID-19 Safety Measures at the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans
All visitors over the age of two are required to wear masks while inside the museum. Masks must cover both the nose and mouth at all times.
Social Distancing Guidelines
The museum has implemented social distancing guidelines throughout its exhibits and public spaces. Visitors are asked to maintain a distance of six feet from others who are not in their party.
The museum has increased its cleaning protocols to ensure that all surfaces are regularly disinfected. Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the museum, and visitors are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.
The museum is currently using timed ticketing to limit the number of visitors inside at one time. Visitors must purchase tickets in advance for a specific entry time.
Additional Safety Measures
The museum has also implemented additional safety measures such as plexiglass barriers at ticket counters and increased ventilation throughout the building.
In conclusion, the World War 2 Museum in New Orleans offers a unique and informative experience for visitors to learn about the events and impact of one of the most significant conflicts in human history.
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans was founded in 2000 by historian and author Stephen Ambrose. Starting as a small collection of artifacts and personal stories from World War II veterans, the museum has grown to become one of the top museums in the country, attracting over 700,000 visitors annually. In 2003, it changed its name from the D-Day Museum to The National World War II Museum to reflect its expanded focus beyond just D-Day. The museum highlights Louisiana’s significant role in World War II through several exhibits that showcase its contributions during wartime.