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How to Visit the WWII Museum in New Orleans

One of the best museums in the entire United States!


an exhibit at the WWII Museum in New Orleans

Ready to check out one of the most astounding military history museums this side of the Smithsonian? The World War II Museum in New Orleans consistently ranks as the top tourist attraction in NOLA, and within the top five museums in the entire United States!


Frequent fliers at Arts and Adventures know that I’m a sucker for exhibit design. Museum curation and exhibit design are supremely underrated art forms. When they’re done well, it can change your entire museum experience.


And my friends, the WWII Museum in New Orleans takes things to an entirely new level. I was blown away by it. I’m not even a big war history person. But everything in this museum was thoughtfully displayed, gorgeously told, and profoundly immersive, sometimes frighteningly so!


Fair warning, it’s also a properly massive museum. You could probably spend three days in there and not see everything. If you’re visiting just for the afternoon, you’re going to have to pick and choose a little. On my visit, I spent probably three hours there. And while I did walk through every exhibit, I definitely only read a fraction of the signs. If you’re only planning a single visit, admire all the artifacts, but only read about what most catches your eye, or you’ll burn out.


Ready to check it out? Here’s all the reasons you should visit this amazing museum.




1 - Gorgeous Artifacts


The sheer amount of amazing things on display in this museum is astounding. There are items from every major theater of the war, and from both sides of the conflict. Everything from uniforms and weaponry, to records, telegrams and letters. Every corner you turn, something new will catch your eye. Admire to your heart’s content.


an exhibit at the WWII Museum in New Orleans

2 - Immersive Exhibits


This is where exhibit design meets museum experience. These exhibits are designed to make you feel like you’re surrounded by the environments where this history took place. Lighting that remains dim and shadowy in places. Flashes and soft sounds that imitate combat. It’s unsettling in the best possible way. The exhibit about the Battle of the Bulge in particular stopped me in my tracks. I just stood there for probably a full minute, experiencing the room, before I started looking at the artifacts. It’s what sets this museum apart and makes it extraordinary.


3 - Incredible Narration


If you prefer audio/visual learning to reading, there are gorgeous videos explaining the stories of the items you’re seeing in most of the exhibits. Think WWII documentaries on the history channel and you’ve got the idea of what these are like. You can watch the videos in full, or use the audio as narration for the artifacts you’re looking at. It helps with the immersive feel and makes the information incredibly accessible.


4 - You Get a Soldier to Follow


At the start of the museum, you get to select a little card that has a dog tag on it. This dog tag becomes “your” soldier for the day. Then, all throughout the museum, you can scan your card on marked display signs to be told your soldier’s story as they progress through the war. It helps put a face to the things you’re learning about and adds a brand new perspective.


an exhibit at the WWII Museum in New Orleans

5 - Doesn't Glorify ANY of It


I sometimes avoid war museums because they can have a way of glorifying these horrifying conflicts. This museum absolutely does not do that. This is another thing that I think the immersiveness helps with. It makes you feel how terrifying these environments are. It doesn’t shy away from the unsavory results. There’s an entire exhibit space dedicated to the holocaust. It’s sobering and fascinating and a truly incredible experience.


You Absolutely Must Visit the WWII Museum in New Orleans


This museum changes you a little bit, and I encourage you to let it! It’s well worth every minute.


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Love and Shenanigans,


Andi


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