The National World War II Museum opened on Magazine Street in 2000. This nationally important collection came to New Orleans, against stiff competition from other US cities, because of the city’s unique links with the D-Day landings the amphibious boats that played a crucial role in the landings were designed and built by the local company, Higgins Industries. Now this prestigious museum attracts visitors from all corners of the world.
Exhibits throw light on the USA’s victorious involvement in the Second World War, an achievement that was all the more remarkable for the fact that in 1939 the US army was smaller than those of Germany, Japan or Italy. By the time the country entered the war in 1941, it had put together a vast military operation which is still one of the largest in the world today.
The impressive sight of dozens of vintage aircraft suspended from the roof of the huge lobby gives a first taste of the museum’s ambitious scope. Other attractions include a display of military vehicles, photographic galleries depicting the daring D-Day landings, original film footage and recordings of those who fought in history’s bloodiest war, including a fascinating Home Front exhibit. Alongside these tales of derring-do and technological wizardry, memorials to fallen soldiers provide a poignant reminder of the human cost of war.
It will take you three or four hours to do justice to this unique collection, but be sure to leave enough time to sip a fizzy beverage served in a traditional quart-sized bottle in the Soda Shop. This onsite café is local celebrity chef John Besh’s tribute to the 1940s, decked out in authentic period style.
The museum is open every day except Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Free parking is available and there’s a bus stop close by.