History, education, technology and entertainment come together to tell the heroic journey of America’s fight in WWII.
NEW ORLEANS (May 7, 2009) – The memories are gathered and the research is complete. Celebrity voice-overs are all recorded. The computer-synchronized props are stowed in an 18-foot-deep pit waiting for their close-up. The National WWII Museum’s gleaming new complex, comprised of The Solomon Victory Theater, Stage Door Canteen and The American Sector restaurant, is readying for its debut. When the doors fling open on November 6, 2009, the Museum’s $60 million newest addition to its $300 million expansion will become the most significant attraction to the city’s cultural scene since Hurricane Katrina.
Groundbreaking for the 70,000-square-foot building occurred on April 7, 2008. Designed by architects Voorsanger Mathes, LLC, the three attraction’s centerpiece is the 250-seat Victory Theater. A state-of-the-art venue, the theater boasts a 120 feet wide screen with technology designed to thrust audiences into the titanic struggles of the War That Changed the World via a 4-D cinematic experience entitled Beyond All Boundaries.
“This isn’t another World War II film,” says National WWII Museum President and CEO Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller “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, and it’s an unprecedented journey that took America Beyond All Boundaries.”
Executive Producer Tom Hanks has worked with Phil Hettema, former Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios and now President of the Hettema Group, to create a unique and overwhelming immersive journey into World War II that will appeal to everyone – from the Greatest Generation to those who have grown up with Facebook and Xbox.
The four-year project incorporates Hollywood special effects, digital animation, and original war footage, all created specifically for the Theater that is being built to house it.
Creative consultant, screenwriter and Professor of History at Lafayette College, Donald L. Miller, author of several best-selling books about the war, collaborated on the screenplay of Beyond All Boundaries. As a historian it was vitally important to Miller that the facts be accurate. “We wanted it to have fidelity,” he said. “The story is too good to make up. You’re seeing events that really happened. Beyond All Boundaries gives audiences a tremendously exciting, immersive and significant picture of the immensity of World War II. It was a true global conflict, and America is the only country that fought it globally.”
The result, voiced by some of Hollywood’s top stars, is jaw dropping. Beyond All Boundaries is true to its name – a 4-D experience that plunges audiences into a sensory world where they will feel the steam rising from Guadalcanal’s jungles, brush snowflakes from their cheeks tailing troops in the Battle of the Bulge, and flinch at deadly anti-aircraft fire as they fly with bomber crews thousands of feet above Nazi Germany.
Following the end of on the 40-minute performance, theater-goers can catch their breath at the Stage Door Canteen, a recreation of the wartime venues found in New York, Los Angeles and other cities that entertained the troops during the war. The National WWII Museum’s new Stage Door Canteen recaptures that excitement and is an ode to the morale-building experience. Patrons will be able to hear the old songs, laugh at the jokes and grab a bite, a soft drink or a cocktail while discovering the sights and sounds of the era. On select nights, patrons can enjoy dinner and a spectacular new signature live show or local music performances.
Lastly, and literally, on the menu, is The American Sector, a Chef John Besh Restaurant. Chef Besh is the celebrated New Orleanian known to the nation for his James Beard award-winning restaurants and through appearances on TV shows like the Next Iron Chef and programs such as the Today show. His is also a former Marine who fought during Operation Desert Storm.
For The American Sector, the original name of the historic New Orleans district known today as the Warehouse District, Besh plans a menu inspired by the simpler fare of the 1940s, but with a flair found only in New Orleans. The restaurant interior will have a bar and an outdoor patio overlooking newly landscaped Magazine Street. It is certain to become a great new addition to the city’s culinary landscape, making a trip to the Museum a must for visitors to New Orleans.
The grand opening celebration on November 6-8, presented by Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, General Contractor for the project, will be an event worthy of a Hollywood premiere. A cast of celebrities led by Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw, veterans and active military, political dignitaries from around the globe, as well as other assorted VIPs, will officially open the complex with a military fly-over and parachute drop on Friday the 6th. Family events and a New Orleans-style block party called the Victory Stomp will take place Saturday the 7th, and special retrospective honoring Museum-founder and Historian Stephen E. Ambrose will be held on Sunday the 8th followed by the Mason Lecture series featuring Dr. Alan Brinkley.
According to the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., U.S. veterans of World War II are dying at the rate of 900 a day, with only 2.2 million remaining today. With each one goes another memory of a time when America sacrificed and shared together as one nation. It’s priceless knowledge.
“The National WWII Museum must collect, record and pass on their stories for the next generation,” says Phil Satre, Chairman of the Museum’s National Board of Trustees. “Our veterans are saying good-bye, and we are losing their eye-witness accounts, so we are hastening our efforts to build-out the museum before they leave us completely. It’s a way to honor those who have done so much to preserve our way of life, and it’s our mission.”
To that end the Museum is proceeding apace with building the new six-acre, 300,000 square-foot campus, of which the Solomon Victory Theater complex is only the first phase. When completed by 2015, the Museum will boast four additional exhibition buildings as well as space for traveling collections and a parade ground, in addition to its existing facilities.
The National WWII 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.