Stepping Into History
A visit to The National World War II Museum
Craig Mulcahy photo
I have read books, watched movies and heard personal accounts, but nothing brought me as close to events of World War II quite like the exhibits housed at The National World War II Museum. I recently had the pleasure of spending the afternoon immersed in the history that the museum brings to its 4 million, and counting, guests.
The museum is designed to bring its visitors on a journey. One after the other, each exhibit continues the story of the war that changed the world. When I first walked into the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, the smiling face of a war veteran greeted me as I looked up through the atrium’s three stories. Planes hang above, and I felt surrounded by army vehicles, an array of weapons and a famous Higgins boat.
New to the museum, the Train Car Experience is the first interactive activity that greets visitors on the main floor of the lobby. This exhibit gives its passengers a recreation of what it felt like to send someone off to war.
Next, I made my way up the stairs to the Home Front Gallery, the first of the five galleries in the building. Three floors took me through the entirety of the war up until the Atomic Age in the Pacific D-Days Gallery.
Once finished, I made my way to the newest addition, The Boeing Center. I took advantage of the catwalks hanging above the main floor to catch the different angles of each plane on display. The Boeing Center’s main attraction is the What Would You Do? interactive game, which asked questions to see how I would react to different issues of war time, and a more kid-friendly interactive simulation of the Final Mission of the war.
My final stop was Beyond All Boundaries, the 4-D movie experience. It is by far my favorite part of the museum. It puts you up close to the war, and simulates the feelings of gunfire, bombs and the heartache that came with the job of being a soldier. It is a must-see, along with the rotating exhibits and artifacts throughout the museum.
Coming soon to the museum: Campaigns of Courage, featuring The Road to Berlin, The Road to Tokyo and a “dog tag” interactive experience, as well as the Liberation Pavilion: an exhibit that will highlight the atrocities of the Holocaust along with the story of Anne Frank and personal accounts of the liberation.
Numerous levels of ticket prices are available; for those, hours of operation and information on exhibits and show times, visit: NationalWW2Museum.org.