Perhaps once thought too narrowly focused, this museum was known as “National D-Day Museum” before a recent name change–and status upgrade.
The museum previously concentrated primarily on events surrounding the famed D-Day offensive by Allied forces at the end of World War II, most notably the Battle of Normandy, the name of the museum was changed to the National World War II Museum in 2009.
The name is more than blandly symbolic, however–it was changed in conjunction with an act of Congress that officially designated the museum “America’s National World War II Museum.”
It’s an affiliate museum of the Smithsonian Institution, and while it may seem strange to have a nationally-recognized World War II museum in the city of New Orleans, the location was was actually a happy accident. The museum was originally designed to focus exclusively on D-Day because a primary feature of the collection was a history of the Higgins Boat – the iconic amphibious warfare boat used to deliver Allied troops onto the beaches of Normandy (and subsequently featured in any number of Hollywood productions). The Higgins Boat was designed and built in New Orleans, and thus the city became the chosen location for the museum.
The museum has several galleries such as: Planning for D-Day, The D-Day Beaches, and Pacific D-Days.
There is also an observation deck on the third floor from which aircraft that hang from the ceiling as part of an aviation exhibit can be viewed up close. Visitors can also enjoy an award-winning 4-D film, “Beyond All Boundaries,” which was produced exclusively for the museum.
The museum is still expanding and the last two projects in the expansion will be the Campaigns of Courage Pavilion (completed in 2015) and the Liberation Pavilion.