National World War II Museum in New Orleans

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The National World War II Museum, formerly known as the National D-Day Museum, is a museum located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, at the corner of Andrew Higgins Boulevard and Magazine Street. It focuses on the contribution made by the United States to victory by the Allies in World War II, and the Battle of Normandy in particular. It was designated by the U.S. Congress as "America's National World War II Museum" in 2003, and the museum maintains an affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. The mission statement of the museum emphasizes the American experience in WW II.

Museum description

The museum opened its doors to the public on June 6, 2000, the 56th anniversary of D-Day. The museum has a large atrium where aircraft and other items are suspended from the ceiling. The building is several stories high and consists of two multi-level sections which are connected only by the main floor atrium. Elevators are available in addition to stairs and a ramp. Visitors begin their self-guided tour of the museum on the top floor and work their way down toward the ground floor in each section. The museum goes in chronological order; that is, the top floor assesses the political, social, and economic conditions that led up to World War II and D-Day. For example, the museum compares the relative military strengths of major nations entering the war. Later visitors see a model of the beaches of Normandy with the relative positions of the number of aircraft and amphibious vehicles. However, the museum does not solely discuss the invasion; visitors may also view an electronic map of the Pacific Ocean that lights up to illustrate the Allied strategy of island hopping, culminating with nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

In addition to the main section of the museum on the War in the Pacific and the War against Germany, the museum includes a special section on the Normandy Invasion and also a section on the Higgins Industries of New Orleans that designed and built the amphibious landing craft. The third floor includes an observation deck for viewing the WWII aircraft hanging from the ceiling. The second floor has reserved space for visiting exhibits and for special exhibits that change over time.

Visitors to the museum are encouraged to allocate roughly 2½ to 3 hours to tour the museum. The museum also contains two auditoriums where educational videos are played, as well as a gift shop. An orientation film, "Beyond All Boundaries", introduces the visitor to the general topics of the museum. A variety of other multi-media displays are part of the museum's presentations. The museum includes a restaurant for visitors operated by noted chef John Besh. The museum sponsors a wargaming club and holds a wargame convention each year called "Heat of Battle".

Relation to New Orleans

Some may wonder why the National World War II Museum is located in New Orleans, a city known for other tourism sites, but which is not usually associated with twentieth-century military history. The main reason the museum is located in New Orleans is because the city was where the "Higgins Boats" vital to D-Day operations were designed, built, and tested. The museum gives extensive coverage of the "LCVP" or "Higgins Boat" landing craft used in the invasion of Normandy and elsewhere. These landing craft were designed by Andrew Higgins of Louisiana and produced in New Orleans by Higgins Industries and its licensees. Furthermore, New Orleans was the home city of historian Stephen Ambrose, who spearheaded the effort to build such a museum.

The Museum closed for three months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, re-opening on December 3 of that year. A museum banner promoted this re-opening by proclaiming "We Have Returned," a phrase the banner juxtaposed with the classic World War II photograph of General Douglas MacArthur striding through the surf on his return to the Philippines. As of 2009, the Museum was in the midst of a $300 million expansion. Expansion of the museum is reported to be resulting in significant increases in attendance at its currently six acre campus. The John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion opened on June 4, 2011, with detailed expansion plans available.

See also

  • National D-Day Memorial
  • National Museum of the Pacific War
  • National World War II Memorial
  • United States Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima)
  • National World War I Museum
  • National Civil War Museum
  • Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow
  • Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Kiev
  • Imperial War Museum
  • La Coupole World War II Museum
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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