Press Release

The National WWII Museum Opens the Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery

Gallery features powerful Voices from the Front interactive oral history experience
Forbes Ribbon Cutting

Photo Caption: Leaders from The National WWII Museum, members of the WWII generation and supporters celebrate the March 20 opening of the Museum's new Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery. The gallery houses unique and evocative artifacts from the Museum's collection as well as Voices from the Front, a new interactive experience that allows guests to hold conversations with 18 members of the WWII generation, many of whom attended the opening.

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NEW ORLEANS (March 20, 2024) — The National WWII Museum in New Orleans officially opened the Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery, a newly renovated space offering displays of more than 50 artifacts — both uncommon and seemingly ordinary objects symbolic of the WWII era — and housing Voices from the Front, a new interactive experience that allows guests to hold conversations with 18 members of the WWII generation, many of whom were in attendance for the March 20 opening.

Located in Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, the Forbes Gallery provides a new opportunity for the Museum to highlight hidden gems from its vast collection of more than a quarter of a million objects, archival materials and oral histories — only a small percentage of which can be displayed at any one time.

“The artifacts on display in the gallery evoke a wide range of emotions and experiences from those who lived through World War II,” said Erin Clancey, Museum Associate Vice President of Collections and Exhibits. “Visitors have the opportunity to contemplate the power of these compelling artifacts and the stories they hold, often beyond what meets the eye.”

Objects such as Ella Fitzgerald's USO Camp Shows M-1 helmet liner, a signed print made from the original negative of the Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph and Medal of Honor Recipient Audie Murphy’s script used during the shooting of the film To Hell and Back give fascinating insight into different perspectives of the war effort and reveal the details behind some of the most monumental events in World War II.

The Forbes Theater first opened in 2000 as part of the original National D-Day Museum, and, with the support of the Timothy Forbes Family, construction began in 2021 to renovate the space as a gallery for rare and iconic artifacts. The Forbes family also donated artifacts related to entrepreneur and politician Malcolm S. Forbes’s service in the European theater of operations for display in the gallery.

The third son of Bertie Charles Forbes, a Scottish emigrant who founded the now-iconic Forbes magazine, Malcolm Forbes enlisted in the US Army in 1942 and, despite having an Ivy League education, served as a machine gunner with the 334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, on the front lines in Europe. Forbes rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for actions and injury during a mission in Germany on November 26, 1944. Both medals are on display in the Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery, along with other awards and Forbes’s war-weathered field jacket.

“I think my father would be surprised but pleased that his service is being honored in this way at The National WWII Museum,” said Timothy Forbes, son of Malcolm Forbes and a former Museum Trustee. “It is impossible to overstate how much we owe his generation of Americans. We hope that our gift helps to ensure that the story of their courage and sacrifice is not forgotten and that ours and future generations of visitors to the Museum can learn what they did to secure the blessings of freedom at home and abroad.”

At the heart of the Forbes Gallery, Voices from the Front interactive video stations help visitors connect with members of the WWII generation in a high-tech yet personal way.

“A powerful addition to the Museum experience, Voices from the Front takes our storytelling ability to a new level by allowing guests to have their own conversations with members of the WWII generation for generations to come,” said Stephen J. Watson, President & CEO of The National WWII Museum. “It offers a new way to carry on the first-person accounts of the men and women who served their country — both at home and abroad — and ensures that their place in history is never forgotten.”

Made possible through generous support from Margie and St. Denis J. “Sandy” Villere, Voices from the Front allows visitors to ask any question to the video display of their chosen WWII generation member, and then hear a real-time response — pulled directly from a cache of prerecorded answers to hundreds of questions. While the AI technology facilitates the interactions, the responses are all authentic and unaltered, providing visitors with answers in each interviewee’s own words and voice.

“The National WWII Museum is the crown jewel of New Orleans, and we are proud to support its mission. Voices from the Front will help preserve these historical accounts and ensure that the lessons of courage, commitment and active citizenship of World War II will continue to inspire Museum visitors well into the future,” said Sandy Villere, a Museum Trustee.

Among those featured in Voices from the Front are Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, who died in 2022; aircraft factory worker Grace (Janota) Brown; “Bloody Hundredth” bomber pilot John “Lucky” Luckadoo; and 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion driver Romay (Johnson) Davis. Preserving the stories of these men and women is central to the mission of the Museum and is even more critical with the passage of time: According to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, just 119,550 of the 16.4 million Americans who served in World War II are alive as of 2023.

Produced by StoryFile, a leader in immersive technology and video capture, each Voices from the Front interview includes as many as 1,000 questions about the subject’s life and wartime experience, creating a robust repository of responses for the software to match to verbal questions from visitors. The Museum’s team selected individuals to represent a diverse range of experiences in World War II. To integrate the interactive interviews into a user-friendly interface, the Museum worked with Ideum, an experience design firm that has collaborated on past exhibits.

“We are honored to preserve the memories and experiences of these veterans and those who lived through World War II and share their incredible stories in Voices from the Front,” said James Fong, CEO of StoryFile Inc. “This project delivers authentic storytelling using our conversational video technology, creating genuine emotional and timeless connections between Museum visitors and these heroes.”

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—so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, the institution celebrates the American spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information on Tripadvisor’s #1 New Orleans attraction, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit