Expansion Underway at National World War II Museum in New Orleans

The National World War II Museum has eight projects under construction and another sixteen planned as they build on three-and-a-half square blocks in New Orleans’ Central Business District.

They’ve added two new buildings to provide enough space for exhibition space, classrooms, library offices and retail space.

The Hall of Democracy is currently under construction. The $33 million, three-story pavilion will house academic and outreach programs and more exhibition space.

Also currently under construction is The Bollinger Canopy of Peace. The nearly $12 million Canopy symbolizes the hope and promise brought by the end of hostilities in the war. The 150-foot tall structure is also designed to unify the campus with the wartime slogan, “We’re all in this together!”

Early next year, the museum will accept bids for the second phase of the Hall of Democracy building. Construction is expected to take seventeen months to complete, according to Bob Farnsworth, the senior vice president of capital programs.

The goal is to raise $370 million for the expansion. $262.8 million has already been raised. The eight programs currently under construction cost $27 million. There are $80 million of projects in the planning and design phases.

One of the biggest projects still in the planning and design stage is the $66 million hotel with adjacent 450-space, multi-story parking garage.

They are planning a new exhibit concerning the Home Front and the road to war for the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. The exhibit will use personal narratives and artifacts to highlight aspects of American life during the war.

There will be nine galleries focusing on pre-war debates, the Pearl Harbor attack, treatment of minority groups, military recruitment and training, manufacturing efforts and the Manhattan Project. The exhibit is expected to be open by June 2017.

In December 2015, the first permanent exhibit was opened. “Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries” shows the events from the attack on Pearl Harbor through the Pacific Theater to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The exhibit features over 400 artifacts, including P-40 Warhawk aircraft. It explores American strategy as it evolved to deal with the Japanese forces in Asia and the Pacific.

The Bob & Delores Hope Foundation donated $3 million to the museum. The donation will be used to integrate Bob Hope’s wartime legacy throughout the campus. Hope is known for his troop performances from WWII to the Gulf War. The museum is planning a documentary to honor his legacy. They will also feature photos, artifacts and other material about Hope in their digital collections at ww2online.org.

The 300,000 square foot museum was recently ranked number 4 in the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards for American museums and 11th for museums in the world.

Approximately 500,000 visitors have been to the museum this year and around 5.34 million visitors have toured the museum complex, New Haven Register reported.

The National D-Day Museum opened on June 6, 2000. Three years later, Congress designated it the National World War II Museum.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE