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Archive for the ‘Museum News’ Category

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Pacific Campaign Challenges

Pacific Campaign Challenges

As we continue through the Road to Tokyo and into the Pacific Campaign Challenges gallery, we come to two immersive exhibits detailing the monumental obstacles American forces had to overcome for victory in the Pacific.

Building Bases in the Pacific (Seabees)

The vast geography and logistical challenges of the Pacific War led to the creation of hundreds of airfields, supply depots, ports, barracks and more by the Navy’s Construction Battalions (CB, or “SeaBees”) as well as other service engineers. Building Bases in the Pacific will explore the lives of these critical servicemen including the complexities of their work and the obstacles that they faced. Personal accounts will feature the difficulties of life in disease ridden and hostile environments, and the importance of building positive relationships with native island populations. Construction was vital for pushing toward mainland Japan, and this exhibit will discuss the various ways in which Navy SeaBees helped lead to Allied victory in the Pacific.

An Alien World

This exhibit will explore difficulty of life in the Pacific, as well as the medical advances that were made in light of many hardships. American forces serving in the Pacific had little opportunity to escape the war. Escape was crucial for troops to mentally and physically recover from their service, though there was little that compared to the comforts of home. Some troops were allowed furloughs in Australia and New Zealand, but many were trapped in the tedium of remote island locations, never allowing them a break from their environments. An Alien World will feature various accounts and memoirs of these trying times of Pacific campaign service men and women.


Donor Spotlight: Jones Walker LLC.

The Building Bases in the Pacific exhibit within Pacific Theater Challenges (Seabees) has been made possible through a generous gift by Jones Walker LLC. Bill Hines is the Managing Partner of Jones Walker and also serves on The National WWII Museum Board of Trustees.

Jones Walker has been committed to and involved in the Museum’s growth since its inception. Many Jones Walker partners have personally supported the Museum both financially and through the development of its programs. Hines became actively involved as a member of the Board in 2007, and became a member of the Executive Committee in 2013. He currently chairs the Museum’s Audit Committee.

Jones Walker was especially interested in supporting the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign due to the efforts of the Museum’s Board Chairman, Richard Adkerson, CEO of Freeport-McMoRan. Adkerson introduced the firm to the upcoming Road to Tokyo galleries. Hines states that “many of our partners and I were moved by the exhibits, and we felt inspired to support this segment of the Museum’s visionary expansion.”

A Seabee in a road grader waves as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress prepares to land on Tinian in March 1945

A Seabee in a road grader waves as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress prepares to land on Tinian in March 1945

After the presentation, Jones Walker committed to sponsor the Building Bases in the Pacific (Seabees) exhibit. Hines says that “we were drawn to Seabees exhibit because of Richard Adkerson, whose father, J.W. Adkerson, was in the Seabees. We thought it was the perfect way to honor Richard’s father and the other noble men who fought in WWII for the cause of freedom.”

Commenting on his many years of involvement with the Museum, Hines states that President and CEO, Dr. Gordon “Nick” Mueller never fails to leave a lasting impact. Hines remarks that Dr. Mueller “has unparalleled knowledge about the detailed history of WWII and its importance to the world. His passion, vision, and drive for conceiving many of these exhibits and executing on the vision are great assets to our city and our country. Because of his work, our children and our grandchildren will know how important WWII is to our history as a nation. Seeing the Museum through to completion has made a great impression on me and many others at Jones Walker. “

When reminiscing of his time spent on the Museum’s Board, Hines states that he has found many of the Museum’s events both memorable and moving. One that stood out the most to him was the Grand Opening ceremonies for the Road to Berlin galleries last December. Hines states that “I found it to be one of the most inspiring and patriotic events I’ve ever attended.”

Hines believes that supporting the WWII Museum is most important in preserving our nation’s history and allowing future generations to be fully educated about the significance of WWII. He states that “it is an honor to have Jones Walker associated with such an amazing organization, and I would encourage others to consider supporting the Museum.”

The Museum is fortunate and grateful to have the support of Jones Walker, LLC in helping the Museum complete our Road to Victory Capital Campaign.

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Normandy Academy: From the Beaches to the Falaise Gap

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IMG_2195After over a week in New Orleans and Normandy, the Normandy Academy students are nearing the end of their trip. They have enjoyed perfect weather throughout with sunny skies and only one evening rain shower. Cool breezes have kept the beach visits pleasant and marked a major change from their time in New Orleans.

On Friday, June 26, the day began with a visit to Ste-Mere-Eglise, where the students heard the story of the paratoopers of the 82nd Airborne Division who liberated the town. Specifically, they learned of the heroism of Gretna, LA native John P. Ray who saved the lives of both John Steele and Ken Russel shortly after receiving a wound that would prove fatal. The students then applied their knowledge of the paratroop drop to future campaigns by discussing the lessons learned in Normandy.

Debates and discussions continued throughout the site visits. At Utah Beach, the students debated the addition of the beach through a risk/reward scenario. On Omaha, the students discussed the flight patterns of the bombing raids, and in the Falaise Gap, they debated several issues involving the French civilians who found themselves caught in the crossfire.

A powerful experience came in the evening on June 28 as the students met French Resistance members Andre Heintz and Collette Marin-Catherine. The students heard the firsthand accounts of struggling against the German occupation against a general backdrop of hardship for all French civilians. After the discussion, Heintz and Marin-Catherine joined the students for dinner at Café Mancel inside the Caen Castle.

For more information on the Normandy Academy, call 504-528-1944, ext. 257 or email travel@nationalww2museum.org.

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Normandy Academy Students Arrive in France

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Normandy Academy students with Mr. Dan Ombredanne at Chateau Periers.

Normandy Academy students with Mr. Dan Ombredanne at Chateau Periers.

The Normandy Academy students arrived in France after three full days of touring at the Museum. Once in France, they stopped at the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame. Now they were ready for their trip to Normandy.

Arriving in the town of Bayeux, the students were immediately impressed by the Bayeux Cathedral, first completed in the 11th century with some portions completed later The cathedral now has an impressive blend of architectural styles. It was commissioned by William the Conqueror, and it is the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry. The students were in for a surprise when they found that their hotel was just two blocks from the cathedral. After their first French meal and a good night’s rest, they awoke reading and willing to visit the Normandy battle sites.

The first day of touring brought the students to the areas around Sword Beach. The first stop was at Chateau Periers, a private home just three miles from the coast. In this chateau, Marie-Louise Osmont kept a diary of her life from the German occupation of her home in August, 1940 until the last British soldier left her home in August, 1944. Her diary gives many insights into the life of both German soldiers and French civilians under occupation. The current proprietor of the chateau, Mr. Dan Ombredanne welcomed the students to the chateau along with the town mayor to give a tour of the grounds and the interior.

Later in the day, the students visited Pegasus Bridge, the Riva Bella Tower, and the German Battery at Longues sur Mer. At each stop the students debated decisions made in the course of the battle. At Pegasus, the students debated whether the bridges along the Orne, Dives, and Merderet Rivers should be destroyed or preserved prior to the landings. At Longues sur Mer, the students discussed the length of the naval barrage—How long? When should it cease?

Still awaiting the students are visits to Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Caen, and a conversation with a veteran of the French Resistance. The students will return to the United States on June 30, 2015.

For more information on the Normandy Academy, please call 504-528-1944, ext. 257 or email travel@nationalww2museum.org.

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Two LSTs on a beach on Guadalcanal with Henderson Field Runways in 1943.

Two LSTs on a beach on Guadalcanal with Henderson Field Runways in 1943

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the second half of the Guadalcanal gallery, we come to the final two exhibits that detail the visual experiences had by the Allied forces within the ruthless jungle terrain and the tactics used to secure victory.

Turning Point

This exhibit explores the central strategic importance of control of the Henderson Field air base to both sides in the campaign. Battles at sea and land raged around gaining ultimate possession of Henderson Field, including the Battle of Santa Cruz, the Naval Battles of Guadalcanal, and the Battle for Henderson Field. An environmental projection will project still images and historic footage related to Henderson Field with an ambient war soundtrack. As well as being a visual component to the scenic environment, the projection is meant to be a visual diary of the experiences of American troops on Guadalcanal throughout the campaign.

War Without Mercy

War Without Mercy will explore the cruel nature of the Japanese enemy and their fighting tactics in an unforgiving jungle environment. The Japanese used the ridges and foliage to their advantage, approached silently, utilized snipers in trees to slow American advances, and attacked relentlessly all through the night. These tactics, which created a frightening “jungle as a bogeyman” feeling, left many marines and soldiers feeling disconcerted and grappling within a war of nerves. Learning hard lessons, US troops responded by developing new tactics and learned to use the terrain and foliage to their own advantage.


Donor Spotlight: Gustaf W. McIlhenny Foundation

Rod Rodriguez

Rod Rodriguez

The War Without Mercy exhibit has been made possible through a generous gift by The Gustaf W. McIlhenny Family Foundation.

The McIlhenny family, well known in Louisiana and worldwide for the creation of the iconic Tabasco products, is steeped in military history and includes John McIlhenny who was a Rough Rider with President Teddy Roosevelt.

The Gustaf W. McIlhenny Foundation was formed in 1997 by Edwin “Rod” Rodriguez at the request of Gustaf W. McIlhenny.  The Foundation focuses on funding institutions nationwide, though primarily in Louisiana, which promote community conservation, health and education programs that stress traditional values. The Foundation has been an advocate of The National WWII Museum dating back to 2004.

Though having been involved with the Museum for many years, Rod Rodriguez became a member of the National WWII Museum’s Board of Trustees in 2014. His father was a key player on the Home Front, working as the head of a working gang at Higgins Industries during the war. He first took his family to visit the Museum soon after the 2000 opening, having purchased bricks honoring his wife Elizabeth’s father, Douglas McIlhenny.

Walter McIlhenny, Elizabeth’s cousin, was in the first wave of Marines at Guadalcanal. He was attacked by a Japanese solider wielding a Samurai sword and struck in the head, but his helmet protected him. He survived the blow, killed his attacker and went on to serve throughout the Pacific, winning the Navy Cross for his courage. Gustaf, whose name the Foundation bears, was not in the military himself, but had three brothers who served throughout the war.

Rod believes that it is important for the Gustaf W. McIlhenny Foundation to support the expansion of The National WWII Museum because of its ever-growing importance as an educational institution. He said that “the older this country becomes, our next generations are not going to know the great sacrifices that were made during WWII by America,” and that this needs to be kept in the forefront of all minds. He noted that the Museum is a repository for history and must act as a learning center for the future. Now that the Museum has achieved such success, and become more acclaimed nationwide, he stated that the Foundation is determined to help further its success and statue on an international basis.

Rod recognizes that the Museum is a tremendous asset to the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.

While his time with the Museum has produced many memorable moments, Rod particularly treasures the conversations he has had with the Medal of Honor recipients the Museum has highlighted over the years. Rod believes that these servicemen and women “function at another level.” They completed extraordinary feats “because they were in the situation to save their brothers…there are really no words to justify some of the things these people have done.” He mentioned specifically the presentation of Walt Ehlers’ Medal of Honor by his daughter Cathy, during the dedication ceremony of Road to Berlin last December. He states this powerful moment is hard to top.

Rod went on to note the importance of bringing his children, and now grandchildren, to the Museum in order for them to “realize the sacrifices this country has made for democracy and freedom.” He mentions that while each generation deals with these sacrifices on a different scale, the actions of the Greatest Generation should never be forgotten.

The Museum is fortunate to have the encouragement of Rod Rodriguez and The Gustaf W. McIlhenny Foundation in helping the Museum complete our Road to Victory Capital Campaign.



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A CCKW truck tows an artillery piece onto a shore during amphibious training on Guadalcanal in March 1944

A CCKW truck tows an artillery piece onto a shore during amphibious training on Guadalcanal in March 1944

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the Guadalcanal, we come first to two exhibits that detail why this Allied campaign signaled a pivotal point in the War in the Pacific.

Landings/Initial Operations

The U.S. military chose Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Island chain, as their first offensive campaign in the Pacific beginning in August 1942. The Solomons represented the farthest reach of Japanese territorial control in the Pacific, and would be the first of many islands the U.S. would retake in a brutal three-year island-hopping campaign to reach the home islands and defeat Japan. This exhibit space covers the initial landings, the Battle of Savo Island, the Battle of the Tenaru River, and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. An environmental projection will augment the text panels describing these operations with video footage and still images from the battles.

Bloody Ridge

Bloody Ridge will provide an overview of the Battle for Guadalcanal through mid-October 1942. Bloody Ridge will detail the significance of the Tokyo Express, the Iron Bottom Sound, the Cactus Air Force, Edson’s Ridge, and the marine defenders as they engaged in intense warfare with tremendous dedication. The difficulty of obtaining US reinforcements and supplies (while the Japanese continued to receive both) will be emphasized, and personal items attained by soldiers based in Guadalcanal will be displayed. An environmental projection will project images and historic footage, including ambient sounds of warfare in the dense jungle background, to evoke the fierce fighting on Guadalcanal.

The Bloody Ridge exhibit within Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift from Dwight Anderson.

Donor Spotlight: Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson

Dwight Anderson, who currently serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees, is the Co-Founder, Principal, & Portfolio Manager of Ospraie Management, an asset management firm located in New York City. Dwight first became involved with The National WWII Museum through his long standing friendship with Board President Richard Adkerson. Dwight states that Richard’s “passion and enthusiasm in the way he described the Museum was infectious,” and sparked him to visit New Orleans.

On his very first visit to the Museum with his family, Dwight was indeed impressed by the content and substance of the Museum, backing up Richard’s glowing reviews. It was after this visit that Dwight decided to become more involved with institution and its expansion.

As a history major in college, Dwight believes in the importance of passing on the story of this monumental conflict to future generations. He noted “to be able to support an institution that was putting together all of the different elements of memorabilia [of the war] and also the multimedia presentations to instruct, teach, show people….that would really be beneficial.”

Dwight’s studies of World War II moved beyond his college days, as he has become an avid reader of World War II history. One of the first books that he read as he gained more interest in the war was “The Guadalcanal Diary,” a memoir written by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis. The stories of the months-long battle in the Pacific, and eventual Allied victory, inspired Dwight to make a capital gift to sponsor the Bloody Ridge exhibit within the Guadalcanal gallery.

However, Dwight’s connection to the war extends further than his studies. Two of Dwight’s great uncles fought in the war, and the souvenirs that his Uncle Eddie brought back, which Dwight used as toys when he was young, were physical reminders of the recent struggle.

Dwight shared that his involvement with the Museum has been very special. He remarked that hearing the veterans’ stories at the Museum — and the humor and humility that they bring to retelling often horrific circumstances — is very memorable and meaningful. He believes strongly that it is important that these stories are passed along to new, younger audiences. Dwight has demonstrated his belief that the depth and quality of the Museum is something that should be sustained, and his generous support helps ensure that it will continue.

The National WWII Museum is incredibly thankful for Mr. Dwight Anderson’s support as we continue to advance along our Road to Victory.




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15 Years at The National WWII Museum: Looking Back at The Idea

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The Grand Opening of The National D-Day Museum on June 6, 2000.


As the National WWII Museum celebrates the 15th anniversary of its opening on June 6, 2000, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come in a short span of time. The Museum is in the midst of $325 million expansion campaign, with the goal of completing its campus while we still have members of the war generation in our midst. In the last year alone, more than 515,000 people walked through our doors and became immersed in the American WWII experience. The Museum is now listed among the most popular museums in the nation – indeed the world – by TripAdvisor users. However, its prospects weren’t always so bright. In fact, documents prepared long ago by founder Stephen Ambrose illustrate how the venture faced daunting challenges long before opening as the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans’ Warehouse District.

One such document is a March 20, 1990 communication from Ambrose to the Board of Directors of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans. At the time, Ambrose expected to build the Museum on the New Orleans Lakefront. The renowned historian describes a meeting he had with professionals from the museum field to discuss specifics of how to bring his vision to life. Then he offers a tentative draft of the “story” the museum should tell, one that seems strikingly modest today. In part, it reads:

      “The central theme of the D-Day Museum is to honor the men and women who made D-Day possible. The core idea is to build a museum that tells the biography of a day – June 6, 1944 – a day that changed history. The lesson that the museum will teach is what the American people and American democracy can accomplish when everyone pulls together. Teamwork was Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite word; it was teamwork at home and abroad that made D-Day a success.” Later, Ambrose adds, “The museum obviously cannot cover everything from this vast undertaking: perhaps the best advice we got was to aim to have visitors leave with two or three vivid impressions.”

It’s safe to say, today, that visitors leave our campus – which explores the entire American experience in the war – with more than a few vivid impressions. Happy 15th Birthday to America’s National WWII Museum!

Take a look at Ambrose’s 1990 report: Ambrose March 20 1990 Talk

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Guadalcanal Gallery

Guadalcanal Gallery

As we continue traveling on the Road to Tokyo, we stop next at our second immersive gallery space, Guadalcanal.

Guadalcanal represents the Allies’ transition from defending against Japanese attacks to planning strategic offensive ground operations against the enemy. The resolve of the U.S. military was tested throughout the campaign, as the American forces struggled against a lack of supplies, enemy reinforcements, brutal naval combat, treacherous jungle warfare, and a fanatical enemy. However, the ending victory was the first step in blunting Japanese expansion across the islands and pushing back on the long road to Tokyo.

The Guadalcanal Gallery will employ rare artifacts, exhibits and interactive elements as it explores the first major campaign by American forces against Japanese targets in the Pacific. In addition to covering a pivotal point in the War in the Pacific, the Guadalcanal Gallery offers a special opportunity for observing the growth and development of the U.S. military as they became more confident in their ability to defeat the Japanese military through a series of successful offensive and defensive operations.

Guadalcanal Gallery

Guadalcanal Gallery

All exhibits are set in a thematic environment with a jungle landscape and overhead canopy of trees. Visitors will pass through a weathered, wooden clapboard hut with a pitched roof and under camouflage netting hanging from above. Personal story panels located throughout the gallery provide opportunities for introspection. An introductory artifact case titled “Weapons of Guadalcanal” will be located near the entrance. The gallery will include four exhibits–Initial Operations, The Siege, Turning Point, and Fighting in the Jungle.

Visitors will take away why the US Military chose this Solomon Island as their first offensive campaign and explore the ruthless nature of the Japanese enemy and their fighting tactics in an unforgiving jungle environment.

The Guadalcanal Gallery has been made possible through a generous gift by Mr. and Mrs. Robert T. Hayes.


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Honoring History with History: 15 Years at The National WWII Museum

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Since opening in June 6, 2000, The National WWII Museum has offered an immersive and innovative look at the American experience in World War II. Fifteen years of educating visitors from around the globe through state-of-the-art exhibits and poignant personal narratives has earned the Museum a reputation as a top-rated tourist destination, all while preserving the rich historical heritage of the city it calls home.

Why New Orleans?
New Orleans is a city famous for its cultural history, unique dining experiences, and rich music scene—but many visitors to the Museum wonder at the connection between the vibrant city and the military campaigns of WWII. In fact, the city of New Orleans played a critical role in the war that changed the world, particularly in the amphibious invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

Support from New Orleans began in the late 1930s, when a local watercraft manufacturer named Andrew Jackson Higgins began to adapt his shallow-water work boats to meet a high military demand for landing crafts. The resulting vehicle, known as an LCVP (Land Craft, Vehicle, Personnel), was capable of transporting men, heavy equipment, and military vehicles from ship to shore. By late 1943, Higgins’s seven plants employed more than 25,000 workers, and by the end of the war, Higgins Industries had shipped out over 20,000 boats—12,500 of those LCVPs.

These boats were crucial to the success of several major US amphibious operations. They were particularly critical on D-Day, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the nation’s military and political leaders. Eisenhower claimed that the strategies used in the war might have been very different without the boats, calling Higgins “the man who won the war for us.”

History of the Museum
On June 6, 2000—the 56th anniversary of D-Day—Stephen Ambrose and Dr. Gordon “Nick” Mueller, PhD founded what began as the D-Day Museum. Originally focused on the Normandy invasion, the Museum expanded with the D-Day Invasions in the Pacific gallery, which opened on December 7, 2001. By August 2003, the Museum welcomed its 1 millionth visitor.

In 2004, Congress designated the Museum the nation’s official World War II Museum. Hurricane Katrina followed shortly thereafter on August 29, 2005, bringing flooding, property damage, and mass evacuations in its wake. The Museum closed its doors until December 2 of that year.
It officially became The National WWII Museum in June 2006. Its expansive scope, which now detailed the American experience in all of World War II, cemented the Museum’s reputation for implementing exceptional educational and preservation programs. That November, the Museum hosted its first International Conference on WWII; speakers at the acclaimed event included Ken Burns, Madeleine Albright, James Bradley, and Medal of Honor recipients.

The Museum’s educational programs have flourished over the years, thanks in part to the August 2007 launch of the web-based virtual field trip, which brings the Museum experience to students from around the world. Since beginning the virtual field trips, student webinars (2011), and Skype programs (2013), the Museum’s education department has connected with students in Canada, England, Spain, Serbia, Honduras, and New Zealand. The Museum brought National History Day back to Louisiana in May 2009 by hosting Louisiana History Day and sending four students to the national contest in College Park, Maryland.
The Solomon Victory Theater Complex opened to the public in November 2009, along with the Stage Door Canteen, the American Sector + Bar, and Beyond All Boundaries, the Museum’s exclusive 4D experience produced by Tom Hanks. Hanks has helped raise money for the Museum from the beginning and has worked to document the WWII story throughout his career.

On its 10th anniversary, and the 66th anniversary of D-Day, Museum donors also ensured the success of the “$10 for Them” campaign, which guaranteed complimentary admission for all WWII veterans. In the same year, a donated telegraph informing the family of Roy Joseph Miletta that he survived the sinking of the USS Tang became the Museum’s 100,000th artifact.

After welcoming its 3 millionth visitor in 2012, the Museum opened the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center in January 2013. This new pavilion celebrated all branches of service, with a fleet of WWII ground vehicles, six warbirds—including a B-17E Flying Fortress—and the interactive Final Mission: USS Tang Submarine Experience. In December 2013, the Museum launched an online expansion in the form of ww2online.com, the online home of images, oral histories, and digital artifacts. Today, the Museum’s digital collections feature 247 oral histories, including over 500 hours of interviews and over 10,000 images.

The Museum commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014 with events in both New Orleans and Normandy, helping cement the Museum as an authority on World War II. That July, the Museum surpassed the 4 million-visitor mark, and in December, the doors opened to the Museum’s fifth pavilion, Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters, with the ribbon cutting of its first floor exhibit, Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries.


Future of the Museum
The National WWII Museum has planned a number of expansions, all designed to continue the mission of the Museum: to educate audiences about the lasting significance of World War II for generations to come. Having raised $245 million of a goal of $325 million for a capital expansion project, the Museum plans to quadruple the size of the original facility.

December 2015 will see the opening of the Museum’s newest pavilion, Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries, which will explore fighting strategies, cultural differences, and the extreme conditions of Asia and the Pacific during the war. In addition, the December opening will showcase the American Spirit Bridge, an 87-foot-long span that will connect the Museum’s Louisiana Memorial Pavilion to the rest of the six-acre campus. Situated at the end of the new bridge will be the stand-alone Merchant Marine: We Deliver the Goods Gallery, which will honor the civilian merchant mariners who risked their lives transporting weapons, men, and materials overseas.

Finally, the 2017 opening of the three-story Liberation Pavilion will explore the closing months of the war and immediate postwar years. Longtime advocate and former Museum chairman Boysie Bollinger’s record-setting $20 million donation in March 2015 will fund the Canopy of Peace, a 150-foot-tall structure to shade the Museum’s campus.

Local Impact of the Museum
As the top-rated tourist destination in New Orleans, the National WWII Museum has attracted more than four million visitors to date, including 660,000 students and teachers. However, visitors flock not only from Louisiana but also from around the world, drawn by the opportunity to experience the immersive exhibits and state-of-the-art multimedia experiences the Museum houses. The economic benefits have been huge: the Museum was responsible for 200,000 hotel room stays in 2014 alone, when 85 percent of visitors came from out of state.


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In our last blog post of the Road to Tokyo countdown, we covered the Submarine, Doolittle Raid, and Battle of Coral Sea exhibits within the New Naval Warfare gallery. Let us now examine the remaining two exhibits detailing naval warfare in the Pacific that will be unfolded in this immersive space.

Sinking of Japanese Cruiser Mikuma, June 6, 1942,  Battle of Midway.

Sinking of Japanese Cruiser Mikuma, June 6, 1942,
Battle of Midway.


Victory at the Battle of Midway was a decisive turning point for the United States. It was this battle that changed the balance of power in the Pacific. The exhibit will explain how the US gained an advantage by breaking Japanese diplomatic and naval codes, but sustained heavy casualties at the beginning of the battle. Victory seemed improbable. Then, within a four-minute period, the US turned the tide of the battle by destroying three Japanese aircraft carriers. With Midway secured, the US was positioned to project power throughout the Pacific. This exhibit will share the thrilling tale of the US military’s comeback at the Battle of Midway, which set the stage to push back across the vast Pacific.

The Battle of Midway Theater within the New Naval Warfare Gallery has been made possible through a generous gift by Tom & Gayle Benson.


Grumman Avengers aboard an aircraft carrier during heavy seas

Grumman Avengers aboard an aircraft carrier during heavy seas


The use of aircraft and aircraft carriers transformed naval warfare. With the transition from battleship to carrier-dominated warfare, opposing fleets launched aircraft from hundreds of miles away and delivered deadly blows without the ships ever coming within sight of one another. Naval aviators became decisive players in key battles. Carriers will detail carrier-based warfare and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese Navy and the American Navy. It will also examine the particular hazards and perils of naval aviation, which included antiaircraft fire, crashes, getting lost at sea, and the difficulties of operating from aircraft carriers.

Join us next week as we take our first steps into the Guadalcanal.

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In Memoriam: Historian, Author, and Museum Friend Hugh Ambrose

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“A people who honor their heroes and who appreciate the great civilization they have inherited must also volunteer to do their share. When we all do our part, we create a healthy, happy, and powerful nation.”

– Hugh Ambrose

This week the Museum lost an important member of our family. Hugh Ambrose was the son of Museum founder Stephen E. Ambrose, but he was also someone who has advised and supported the Museum from its earliest days. Whether contributing his historical expertise, leading or accompanying Museum travel programs, securing invaluable donations to support the Museum’s educational mission, or coordinating public programs here at the Museum that brought us veterans, historians, and storytellers, Hugh Ambrose quietly made his mark on this institution. He will be greatly missed.

Here are just a few of the fitting remembrances of Hugh that have been published as well as images from his time at the Museum:

Hugh Ambrose, the son of a great historian who succeeded on his own, dies at 48

Hugh Ambrose, historian who helped develop New Orleans’ National World War II Museum, dead at 48


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