NEW ORLEANS (October 5, 2023) — The National WWII Museum announces the future opening of Voices from the Front, a new interactive experience that will help visitors connect with the WWII generation in a high-tech yet personal way. Made possible through a $1.5 million gift from Museum Trustee Sandy Villere and his wife, Margie, Voices from the Front is scheduled to open in early 2024 as part of the Museum’s new Forbes Gallery of Rare and Iconic Artifacts.
Using cutting-edge technology and interactive video displays, Voices from the Front will allow guests to hold conversations with more than a dozen interviewees. The effect, made possible through artificial intelligence, will be truly immersive, as museumgoers will be able to personally engage with veterans, Home Front workers and other witnesses to the war after they are no longer with us to share their firsthand stories. Voices from the Front will put real faces to history, offering unique and intimate perspectives and bridging the gap between generations.
“Preserving the personal accounts of those who served and sacrificed in defense of our freedom during World War II is at the foundation of our mission, and having these men and women share their stories with visitors firsthand has long been a hallmark of the Museum experience. Now, Voices from the Front will take this storytelling to a new level, allowing guests to continue to have their own conversations — through the power of AI — with members of the WWII generation, even long after they have passed,” said Stephen Watson, President & CEO of The National WWII Museum. “This powerful addition to the Museum will give visitors the ability to authentically connect with these individuals, creating an effective way to carry on their memories of the sights, sounds, terrors and triumphs of the war for generations to come.”
Museum visitors will be able to select from individuals from the war era to interact with including Iwo Jima veteran and 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 Davis.
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 demonstrate the most diverse range of experiences possible in World War II. To integrate the interactive interviews into a user-friendly interface, the Museum turned to Ideum, an experience design firm that has collaborated on past exhibits. Combining industry-leading technology with a visitor-centric approach, their Creative Services team designed an intuitive display that will help users understand Voices from the Front, differentiate among interviewees, and become comfortable with initiating conversations.
“There are no greater heroes than the men and women who risked their lives to overthrow the tyranny of the Axis powers,” said Stephen Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of StoryFile. “Through their storyfiles, we hear blow by blow, day by day, everything they did to secure the future of the free world, a world we should never take for granted. As this great generation of heroes leaves us, it is our honor to document their stories and connect us all to a past we must never forget.”
Formerly the Malcolm S. Forbes Theater, the newly renovated Forbes Gallery of Rare and Iconic Artifacts will display an array of rare, iconic and compelling artifacts along with Voices from the Front. These relics will evoke a wide range of emotions and experiences from a time of momentous conflict and change, allowing visitors to contemplate the power of the artifacts and stories they hold.
The Forbes Theater, located in Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, first opened in 2000 as part of the original National D-Day Museum. Since 2017, plans have been underway to reprogram and renovate the space as a gallery for rare artifacts with the support of the Forbes family, who pledged $250,000 toward the effort along with the donation of artifacts related to entrepreneur and politician Malcolm S. Forbes’s service in the European theater of World War II as a US Army machine gunner. These include Forbes’s M43 field jacket, dog tags, Purple Heart, and Bronze Star award and citation.
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 nationalww2museum.org.