History, education, technology and entertainment come together to tell the heroic journey of America’s fight in WWII
NEW ORLEANS (November 6, 2009) – The National World War II Museum opened three new venues this morning with a combination of power, pomp and poignancy as Hollywood celebrities including Tom Hanks, Patricia Clarkson and Mickey Rooney, a flyover squadron of military jets and a crowd of 4,000 invitees saluted 350 WWII veterans assembled on the Museum’s parade grounds.
The new attractions are the Solomon Victory Theater, Stage Door Canteen entertainment venue and The American Sector, a Chef John Besh restaurant. Together, they represent the most significant cultural additions to New Orleans since Katrina and are the next phase of the Museum’s ongoing $300 million expansion.
The centerpiece of the 70,000-square-foot expansion, the Solomon Victory Theater, will screen the 4-D cinematic production Beyond All Boundaries – a 35-minute immersive journey from Pearl Harbor to VJ Day featuring breathtaking effects, rare archival footage and images, CGI animation and multi-layered projection. Seats rumble as Tiger tanks storm across the deserts of North Africa and snow gently falls in the forests of the Ardennes on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge. Executive Producer Tom Hanks, Creative Director Phil Hettema, celebrated historians Donald L. Miller and Hugh Ambrose, and the Museum’s research team came together to create an experience that is emotional, visceral, engaging and, most importantly, historically accurate.
“This isn’t another World War II film,” says National World War II Museum President and CEO Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, who first conceived the concept for the attraction. “This is a cinematic experience unavailable anywhere else in the world. The narrative uses the combatants’, journalists’ and Home Front workers’ own words to tell the story of the war. It’s an unprecedented journey that took America Beyond All Boundaries of warfare and sacrifice.”
Besides Hanks, Beyond All Boundaries features the voice talents of Kevin Bacon, Corbin Bleu, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Connolly, James Cromwell, Blythe Danner, Viola Davis, Jessie Eisenberg, John Goodman, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Jonas, Justin Long, Tobey Maguire, Joseph Mazzello, Daran Norris, Wendell Pierce, Chris Pine, Brad Pitt, Bill Sadler, Jon Seda, Gary Sinise and Elijah Wood.
Audiences at the new Stage Door Canteen will be transported back to the Home Front, a time when music and entertainment boosted the nation’s morale. The mood is set with sleek, hardwood floors, dramatic lighting and oversized, heart-warming black and white photos of iconic WWII entertainers, such as Rita Hayworth and Clark Gable. A state-of-the art sound system and stage will be used to feature music of the era and an exclusive live show, Let Freedom Swing!
American Sector, a Chef John Besh restaurant, is both new and familiar. Chef Besh is the celebrated New Orleanian known to the nation for his James Beard award-winning restaurants and through appearances on TV programs like the Next Iron Chef and the Today show. He’s also a former Marine who fought during Operation Desert Storm. For the American Sector Besh crafted a menu that takes quintessential American comfort foods like the sloppy joe or meatloaf, and adds a gourmet twist. The menu also features house-made sodas, malted shakes and mouth-watering desserts. Kid’s meals come in vintage metal lunchboxes complete with the homemade “Sector Jacks”.
Museum officials hope that these attractions inspire those who did not experience the war first-hand to learn more. There is urgency to The Museum’s mission. The Greatest Generation is leaving us. Of the 16 million who served just 2 million veterans are still alive today, according to the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs. We lose more of these heroes every day.
To that end the Museum is proceeding apace with building the new six-acre, 300,000 square-foot campus. When completed by 2015, the Museum will boast three additional buildings as well as space for traveling exhibits and a parade ground, in addition to its existing D-Day exhibits.
The Experience the Victory Grand Opening Weekend, sponsored by Satterfield & Pontikes, will continue with a free family fun day on Saturday, November 7, followed by the Victory Stomp, a ticketed block party featuring some of New Orleans’ best musicians and a grand fireworks display. On Sunday, November 8, the Museum will host a free retrospective on the work of Museum founder Stephen E. Ambrose and “Visions of Peace in an Age of War,” a lecture by noted historian and Columbia University provost, Alan Brinkley.
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.