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March 12, 2013

A New Addition to the National WWII Museum

By Ingrid Skjong | Museums

A New Addition to the National WWII Museum
Courtesy of National WWII Museum

Constructed of glass and steel and rising 96 feet out of the Louisiana earth, the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, is a study in evolution. The building, which took 21 months to complete and opened officially in January, embodies a significant milestone in the growth of a museum that takes its educational and historical responsibilities to heart.

“The pavilion…[enables] us to present stories in ways far different from what you find in our other galleries,” says Gordon H. Mueller, president and CEO of the museum. “It provides dramatic spaces and the latest audio-visual technology to support education programs and conferences. Also, the pavilion is especially well suited for military ceremonies and other community events.”

Exhibits and special presentations—author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman leads the lecture “Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II” on March 14—abound. “Vehicles of War” explores tanks, ambulances and other equipment. Service members receive due respects in “Service and Sacrifice,” and an exhibit of restored iconic airplanes, such as the North American P-51 Mustang and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, tells the stories behind “warbirds.” And “Final Mission: The USS Tang Submarine Experience” recounts the adventures of the most successful submarine in the war (it sank 33 Japanese ships) and its demise in 1944.

It is an impressive display made all the more notable by its continuing growth, thanks to a $300 million capital expansion plan. Approved nine years ago and set for completion in 2015, it will ultimately increase the size of the museum fourfold, adding additional exhibit spaces, libraries and archives. At 945 Magazine St., New Orleans; 504-528-1944; nationalww2museum.org.