The National WWII Museum
Located across the street from the convention center, midway between the Quarter/CBD and Garden District, the Warehouse District is a brazen coup of adaptive re-use architecture and an incubator for the city’s most innovative restaurants and cultural attractions. New Orleans’ top chefs—Emeril Lagasse, John Besh and Donald Link—have been instrumental in drawing crowds, along with the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and The National WWII Museum. The success of the Warehouse District in the last decade has united the entire span of neighborhoods along the Mississippi River into one collective whole, accessible from end-to-end via the iconic St. Charles streetcars.
The WWII Museum is a hugely popular venue, seemingly under constant expansion since opening in 2000. A new $300 million expansion is adding a series of pavilions that will quadruple the present size by 2015.
Opened last week, the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center showcases industrial innovation during the war years. Group capacity for private rental is 1,500 pax, surrounded by exhibits including tanks and a restored Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress.” The USS Tang Submarine Experience opens later this year, where visitors can perform various crew duties during recreated battles with the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces.
In the winter, the Campaigns of Courage: European & Pacific Theaters pavilion will highlight the Allied strategy behind fighting two wars simultaneously on two continents. Visitors will be given electronic dog tags with a barcode for a specific armed forces member, who will narrate the tour as attendees pass by each interactive exhibit. Lastly, scheduled for completion in 2014, the Liberation Pavilion will focus on the postwar years through interviews with Holocaust survivors, the story of Anne Frank, and first-person narratives from German and Japanese soldiers.
“The swift process that has been made on this project is emblematic of the unity of spirit, dedication and selfless hard work that won the war on the battlefronts and the home front seven decades ago,” says Dennis Muilenburg, president/CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
Also check out events at The Stage Door Canteen inside the museum. A sample of upcoming performances in the 285-pax venue include Jump, Jive and Wail: The Music of Louis Prima on February 22-24, showcasing the New Orleans King of Swing. In March, a Rat Pack Tribute Show celebrates the music of Frank, Dean and Sammy.