[Imgae Courtesy of the National WW II Museum ]

Back In Action: WWII Museum Reopening on Memorial Day

19:15 May 20, 2020
By: Dave Randall

After nearly three months of precautionary closure, the National World War II Museum will reopen to the public in a reduced capacity, just in time to commemorate Memorial Day.

Museum officials and operations staff spent the past eight weeks assessing new protocols with healthcare experts and peer institutions as to how they could meet health standards while maintaining the award-winning experience that attracted over 780,000 visitors from around the world in 2019. The museum, located in the CBD, will unveil an arsenal of new safety and social distancing procedures when they open at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25.

The museum, which TripAdvisor ranks as the number one thing to do in New Orleans and the number eight museum in the world, will adhere to Mayor Cantrell's safe reopening plan and Governor Edwards's Phase One proclamation by reducing visitor capacity to 25 percent.

The museum is ramping up cleaning and tightening guest protocol. Contactless sanitation stations are dotted throughout the museum's six-acre campus. All volunteers, employees, and visitors are required to wear face coverings during the opening phase. Those arriving without face coverings will be provided with complimentary masks, and all visitors will be provided with their own single-use stylus for the many interactive exhibits. In accordance with city and state recommendations, the museum suggests that seniors, those who are ill, and those with serious medical conditions hold off visiting until it's safer. They also suggest guests who are able to use the stairs do so instead of using the elevators.

The museum is implementing additional social distancing and capacity control: designated exhibit and gallery entrances, social distancing markers once visitors are inside, and a request to continue onward to the designated exhibit exit without doubling back. Maybe learning about the sacrifices made during "The War That Changed The World" will put the sacrifices of our own time into context and perspective.

To best manage maximum enjoyment with minimal crowds, the museum will only sell tickets via their website in staggered 15-minute windows, starting as the museum opens at 9 a.m. and continuing until the last availability at 3:45 p.m., before the daily 5:00 p.m. museum closing. Visits can often exceed three hours, so it's suggested to pre-purchase tickets for an early time slot online HERE.

The museum will continue to honor its Blue Star Museum program, offering free admission for active-duty military, National Guard, and National Reserve personnel and their families. As an added bonus, the museum is offering free admission to healthcare workers and first responders every day, plus half-off admission for Louisiana locals on Mondays. All three offers run until Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2020.

There are five exhibits that you'll have to miss, as they're closed during this first phase: The John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion, L.W. "Pete" Kent Train Car Experience, BB's Stage Door Canteen, Final Mission: USS Tang Submarine Experience, and The Jeri Nims Soda Shop.

The five exhibits you shouldn't miss:

Bayou to Battlefield: Higgins Industries During World War II

What better way to learn about our local World War II heritage than through the story of a swamp boat? The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion permanent exhibit pays homage to New Orleans's iconic contribution, from its beginning as a shallow-draft swamp boat to the amphibious transport essential to winning D-Day on the Normandy beaches. See how 20,000 of them were made by the people of New Orleans and examine a replica Higgins boat.

Beyond All Boundaries

The 25 percent capacity extends to the museum's Solomon Victory Theater in Building 2. Between hourly complete deep cleans, visitors can enjoy the 4D theatrical experience, including first-person war stories portrayed by New Orleans locals Wendell Pierce and Patricia Clarkson. Coronavirus survivor and acclaimed actor Tom Hanks narrates.

Road to Tokyo

The air conditioning may not avail this immersive Pacific Theater gallery experience of stories and artifacts from Pearl Harbor, Southeast Asia, and Japan. The exhibit is located in the Campaigns of Courage.

Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II

The Hall of Democracy's Senator John Alario Jr. Special Exhibition Hall highlights obscure parts of the American Experience and is now running Ghost Army, the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a 1,000-strong unit made up mostly of artists and ad-men conscripted to serve in areas best suited to their unique skills. They came up with such zany ideas to beat the Nazis as inflatable tanks, false radio broadcasts with sound effects, and other imaginative, resourceful methods to save lives. It's an inspiration to use what's at hand and our own special skills to win the day.

Remembered Light: Glass Fragments from World War II, the McDonald Windows

Shards of stained glass that once decorated European churches are repurposed into 25 art pieces on view in The Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery. Thirteen artists worked to give shards collected by a U.S. Army chaplain a new life as examples of the continual striving to put peace back together.

945 Magazine St., 504-528-1944, nationalww@museum.org.

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