NEW ORLEANS (May 31, 2017) — On June 10, 2017, The National WWII Museum will open its newest permanent exhibit—The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George R. Brown Salute to the Home Front. Located on the second floor of the Museum’s original Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, the exhibit will tell the story of the road to war and the Home Front, including the political discord of the prewar years, the terror of the Pearl Harbor attacks, the massive mobilization in personnel and manufacturing, and the experience of ordinary Americans. Visitors will find themselves inside the story through nine immersive galleries, which re-create a newsstand, factory floor, 1940s home and more as the evocative backdrop for artifacts, digital interactives and personal narratives.
With The Arsenal of Democracy, the Museum will explore the American Home Front at a new level: captivating, compelling and poignantly relatable. By telling the story of the war as the vast majority of Americans experienced it—as students, Home Front workers, civilian defense volunteers, servicemembers in training and everyday families, the institution is taking a major step in fulfilling its Congressional mandate to become the nation’s official museum of the entire American experience in World War II.
“Not every American has a relative who served overseas, but everyone alive in America in the early 1940s has experienced the Home Front depicted in The Arsenal of Democracy,” said Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, president and CEO of the Museum. “Even those born long after the war can find hundreds of connection points—in the everyday objects they can relate to their own lives, the experience of hearing news over the radio, the WWII icons that still abound in modern life—making this the Museum’s most universal access point to history.”
The Arsenal of Democracy exhibit will continue to meet the high standards for content production and immersive gallery design established in the Museum’s Road to Berlin and Road to Tokyo permanent galleries, drawing on the institution's richest asset: its trove of 9,000+ firsthand accounts of the WWII years, a collection begun by Museum founder Stephen Ambrose. For instance, a gallery focused on the Pearl Harbor attacks and the harrowing months after is enriched by video oral histories from men who served on the USS Arizona and USS San Francisco, manned the air tower that spotted the incoming Japanese planes and survived the Bataan Death March in the first months of the war.
Additionally, United but Unequal, a gallery exploring discrimination and prejudice during World War II, includes accounts from Japanese Americans incarcerated during the war, as well as people from many races who enlisted in defense of a country that treated them as second-class citizens.
Key themes in the exhibit include the debate between interventionists and isolationists, America’s mobilization of personnel and manufacturing, technological innovation, propaganda and media, diversity and discrimination, and the world-changing development of the atomic bomb. These themes are woven throughout richly layered galleries, which house 62 oral histories, 398 artifacts, 24 personal story panels, 16 videos and three interactive experiences unique to the Museum’s campus, focusing on specialized training, physics and welding.
The nearly 10,000-square-foot exhibit has been generously funded by the Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston. The organization is strongly linked to the WWII story through the legacy of Brown Shipbuilding company, represented in the exhibit through the iconic Army-Navy “E” for Excellence in Manufacturing pennant, and a narrated video about wartime manufacturing and the “can-do” spirit exemplified by Brown Shipbuilding during the war.
“The launch of The Arsenal of Democracy will mark the most significant expansion at our Museum since the completion of Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters,” Mueller continued. “In keeping with the Museum’s mission to tell 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—these new exhibit galleries will be a major landmark in fulfilling the introductory portion of that charge.”
To mark the launch of The Arsenal of Democracy, the Museum will host a series of private and public grand opening events at the beginning of June, including the institution’s American Spirit Awards gala hosted by NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw on June 9. Earlier that day, a luncheon and leadership forum will be held in the Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion. The multiday extravaganza will conclude with The Arsenal of Democracy’s grand opening program on the morning of June 10.
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 WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or on Facebook.