Saturday, January 18, 2014

National World War II Museum, New Orleans

Everyone knows about Bourbon Street and the French Quarter in New Orleans but we went somewhere different this trip. The National World War II Museum was founded by historian Stephen Ambrose, author of Band of Brothers. It currently encompasses three huge buildings on Magazine Street. I thought it would be a collection of military memorabilia we'd look at for half a day. Boy, was I wrong.

There are loads of planes, tanks, transports, weapons, uniforms and medals representing both Allied and Axis artifacts.

Silver American planes from World War II. Painted white stars inside blue circles on the wings; red wingtips and tails, yellow tips on the propellors.
Overhead view inside the Freedom Pavilion

Some are unexpected. For example, the odd-looking white capsules near the right turn sign in the photo below are German bomb shelters.

Large, monolithic buildings of battleship grey stone and tempered glass house the Victory Theater and large exhibit halls at the World War II Museum
View of more buildings from the main entrance
to the National World War II Museum.

Mr. Ambrose interviewed thousands of veterans and survivors of the war. (A friend of ours related his interview lasted four hours. He thought it would take half an hour.) These oral histories are the strength of the museum. They provide the textual explanations of the displays. Some written but the most moving are audio.

There are floors of exhibits that fluidly intersperse artifacts with large dioramas, interactive maps and small rooms where personal narratives and photos are available at the push of a button. One was a discussion of the end of the war which included opposing viewpoints by veterans of the US and Japan.

Diorama showing grey ships and planes heading to the beaches of Normandy for D-Day. So closely packed one could "almost walk from ship to ship."
Diorama of a small section of the D-Day landing.
To scale except this is only 1/40 of the width!

We saw two 4D presentations: Beyond All Boundaries and the USS Tang.

Replica of the USS Tang with light blue walls and grey floors, periscope mounted in the center, various gauges and meters attached to the walls.
USS Tang presentation

The staff and volunteers are extremely friendly and helpful. I can see why this is the premier attraction in New Orleans. We reluctantly left at day's end... after the third call for closing.

Enjoy the day. Ann

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