The National World War II Museum’s new 32,000-square-foot Campaigns of Courage pavilion encompasses two floors of displays where visitors can see how battles in Europe and the Pacific were fought, through the eyes of those who witnessed them firsthand. The Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries (which opened in December 2014) and Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries (opened in late 2015) take guests on a hard-fought journey through various battles that span from tropical Pacific islands to the German heartland.
The visitor experience begins before even entering the first gallery, with virtual tour guides who were on the frontlines. With the “Dog Tag Experience,” museum guests are issued a microchipped key card that represents a dog tag used by servicemen and women. Choose from one of dozens of enlistees, scan the card at kiosks throughout the pavilion and you’ll learn a little of what they saw, heard and felt during their wartime experience.
Visitors enter the Road to Berlin exhibit at the earliest phase of America’s involvement. The U.S. Army at the time was still unproven and inexperienced, compared to the British forces that had been fighting the German and Italian armies for two years. We find GIs in north Africa, fighting at the fringes of Axis-occupied desert territories. In the Road to Tokyo galleries, learn about the struggles servicemen and women faced, beginning with the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.
In these and the following galleries, visitors are immersed in multisensory experiences. Apart from seeing machines, letters and personal gear used on the battlefront, you’ll hear the sounds and see video footage of Allied forces moving into the heart of Europe and throughout the Pacific Rim. In the Battle of the Bulge Gallery, visitors are taken through a snow-filled forest and shown a video portraying soldiers fighting across northwest Europe during the brutal winter of 1944. Meanwhile, in the Road to Tokyo exhibit, you'll get a glimpse of jungle warfare at Guadalcanal.
The Road to Berlin ends with stories of the key final battles that brought the Third Reich to an end. We find scenes of devastation in Cologne, Dresden, Hamburg and other cities, culminating in the Allied force’s final march to Berlin. The scene is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers during these battles across the Continent. In Road to Tokyo, visitors get a glimpse at the final phases of the campaign, which culminated in Japan's surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.
Visit more of Louisiana’s military museums, including the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum in Monroe, the USS Kidd Veterans Museum in Baton Rouge, and the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum in New Orleans. And keep up to date with exhibits at these and other related museums at LouisianaTravel.com.