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5 New Reasons to Visit the National WWII Museum

The Liberation Pavilion explores the end of the war through exhibits, artifacts and personal stories

spinner image exterior of the liberation pavilion
The exterior of the Liberation Pavilion, the final piece to the National WWII Museum.
Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

The latest and final addition to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans offers a haunting and timely look at the impact of war. 

Unlike the six pavilions built before it, the Liberation Pavilion, which opened in early November, focuses on the war’s aftermath.

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The impressive collection of interactive exhibits and historic artifacts takes a deep dive into the highly personal effects of war and paints a vivid picture of America’s sacrifices, social movements and international impact. 

Here are five exhibits and highlights you won’t soon forget.

spinner image anne frank exhibit at the world war two museum
“And Then They Came for Me” gallery details the story of Anne Frank, her family and four others who joined the Franks while hiding from the Nazis.
Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

 1. “And Then They Came for Me”

The first part of this three-section gallery takes you behind the bookshelf that leads to the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi soldiers.  You hear Anne’s words as you walk through the space, telling the story of the young girl’s hopes, fears and ultimate demise. The accompanying exhibit graphically displays the horrors of Nazi concentration camps but a posted sign allows enough warning so visitors can bypass the exhibit if they prefer.  

spinner image cost of victory exhibit features artifacts photos and personal testimonies from the war
The “Cost of Victory” exhibit features artifacts, photographs and personal testimonies from the war.
Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

2. “The Cost of Victory”

Photographs, listening stations and prisoners of war testimonials drive home the brutality of the battlefield experience. Farther along on the first floor, similar opportunities to hear from both the soldiers who liberated concentration camps and the camp survivors add to the emotion.  

spinner image gallery of replicated stolen art saved by monuments men and women during world war two
Visitors can learn about stolen art during WWII and the brave women and men who recovered the rare works in “The Monuments Men and Women” exhibit.
Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

3. “The Monuments Men and Women”

Adolf Hitler’s looting of world art as he ravaged cities across Europe, and his order to have it all destroyed if he lost, threatened to erase much of the art we treasure today.  A joint program created by Western Allies allowed specialists to locate the hidden bunkers and preserve the priceless pieces.   After walking through a recreation of the salt mine where one of the biggest caches of art was found, visitors can scan a QR code that shows pieces that are still missing and teaches how they can help if they spot them in the world.    

spinner image photo of an exhibit on civil rights during world war two
“Prosperity and Change” offers insight into the demand for equal rights.
Courtesy of The National WWII Museum

4. “Prosperity and Change”

In this exhibit, visitors are asked to consider who really won and lost freedom when the war was over.  For service members of color and women, the freedom won abroad didn’t follow them home. But the experiences of war did lead to a recognition of their own economic power and a realization of the possibilities for full humanity that existed outside of America. The results were the Civil Rights Movement and demands for equality that consumed the decades to follow. 

5. The Priddy Family Foundation Freedom Theater 

Inside the custom-built theater at a pivotal moment in the show, the audience platform rotates and a short film focuses on the fight for freedom that led to the war and the ongoing need for its protection today.  Tracing the war from start to finish and into the modern day, the film perfectly concludes a visit to the museum and leaves visitors with plenty to consider about the role of the individual — as well as nations — in the ongoing fight for human rights.  

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