Stretching across six acres of New Orleans’ unique downtown landscape, the National World War II Museum is a trove of six pavilions with more than 250,000 artifacts and 9,000 personal accounts from veterans that piece together the war that changed the world.
The museum’s newest permanent exhibit, “The Arsenal of Democracy,” is an experience that takes visitors down the road to the war and describes how it was fought on the home front. They can walk through a 1940s-style home and learn how families dealt with food shortages, how women took on new employment, and how children and the elderly contributed through bond purchases and scrap drives when 16 million American citizens joined the military during the war.
Other galleries within the exhibit include the depiction of the American response through theater marquees and clips of propaganda movies, a reproduction of military barracks that detail the rapid training that mobilized civilians to fight around the world, and the story of the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb the U.S. secretly raced to create before the Nazis could.
A notable artifact that hangs above “Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries” is a shark-faced P-40 Warhawk. The exhibit shines a light on what led the U.S. into the war in the Pacific. Displays detail the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S.’s island-hopping strategy, and the final assaults on Japan—atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Visitors also can see a replica bridge of the USS Enterprise.
An upcoming special exhibit, “Ghost Army: The Combat Artists of World War II,” will be on view until Jan. 3, 2021. The U.S. Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and their deception operations in Europe are highlighted through artwork, uniforms, an inflatable tank, and other items. “Elvis: Through the Years” will be on this fall in BB’s Stage Door Canteen, journeying through the career of Elvis Presley. Spencer Racca will pay tribute to the King with hits like “All Shook Up,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” and “Suspicious Minds.”
Throughout the initial phase of reopening, most galleries, exhibits, and experiences will be available with controlled attendance—especially within galleries, says the museum’s Emily Eagan.
“The museum will operate at reduced capacity while enacting new safety measures, including advanced online ticket purchases, social distancing guidelines throughout pavilions, and enhanced sanitizing and cleaning protocols,” she says. “To help ensure public safety and avoid crowds, timed ticket purchases will be required. It is strongly recommended that visitors pre-purchase museum admission online, and tickets are now available for advanced purchase.”
Special rates are offered for groups of 10 or more for visits to the museum and BB’s Stage Door Canteen. Box lunches are also available with notice.
Photo by National World War II Museum