On display March 4, 2021 - January 2, 2022
in the Senator John Alario, Jr. Special Exhibition Hall
The National WWII Museum's newest special exhibit, SOLDIER | ARTIST: Trench Art in World War II, takes an in-depth look at a military pastime known as "trench art": the creation of art, souvenirs, and tools out of discarded materials and the waste of war. Just as evaluating any other art form can reveal the life experience of its creator, the artifacts featured in this exhibit offer visitors a unique way to connect to the WWII veterans who made them—whether they did so out of boredom or necessity.
The practice of creating trench art is as old as military conflict itself. During the American Revolution, for example, prisoners of war created ship models from the bones of their rations. Soldiers in the Civil War carved charms and trinkets from lead bullets. World War I would bring the advent of "classic" examples of trench art--and give name to the pastime--as changes in technology presented soldiers with the material that would come to characterize the art form best: the brass cartridge. And during World War II, a more mechanized army offered increased access to the tools needed to fashion trench art, and the artifacts became more varied in form and were produced in greater quantity.
Trench art comes in all shapes and sizes ranging from utilitarian to decorative and from serious to frivolous. Servicemembers made souvenirs like ashtrays or jewelry for their loved ones at home, but they also made necessities like tools and cookware. Prisoners of war even made forbidden items like radios, musical instruments, or escape equipment. Each piece reveals not just the artistic skills of its maker and the materials available to them, but also their circumstances and their thoughts and feelings at the time they crafted the items.
This new special exhibit, curated by the Museum’s Tom Czekanski, features more than 150 of those very artifacts, many of them never before exhibited, and the majority of them donated to the Museum by their original creators--the WWII veterans themselves. The collection, which represents various forms of WWII trench art, as well as background on their origins and creators, offers a unique opportunity to see the physical products of servicemembers' resourcefulness and ingenuity in the field.
The exhibit will be on display in the Senator John Alario, Jr. Special Exhibition Hall, located on the first level of the Museum’s Hall of Democracy, from March 4 to January 2, 2022. Additionally, a robust schedule of free programming for students and the public will be offered both online and onsite throughout the exhibit’s run to further explore the personal stories and significance behind these pieces of art made on the battlefield and in captivity.
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Explore The CampusMuseum Campus Guide
The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion exhibits take visitors into the monumental efforts on the Home Front and to the beaches of Normandy—focusing on the thousands of men and women who made Allied victory in World War II possible.
In a war where the terrain was as deadly as the enemy, this pavilion tells the story of American servicemembers abroad—and how they overcame unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts to win victory in World War II. In over 19,000 square feet of exhibit space, two extraordinary exhibitions bring visitors inside the epic story of the war in its most infamous settings, bringing to life jungles, beaches, mountains, and oceans in 19 immersive galleries.
The Solomon Victory Theater is home to Beyond All Boundaries, a 4D cinematic experience produced exclusively for The National WWII Museum by Tom Hanks—who narrates the film—and Phil Hettema.
The Hall of Democracy represents the center of the Museum’s expanding educational outreach initiatives—providing a space that will enable the institution to share its collections, oral histories, research, and expertise with audiences across the world.
In World War II—the war that changed the world—freedom hung in the balance. Americans answered the call to protect that freedom with 16 million men and women serving in uniform and an untold number of citizens of all ages doing their part on the Home Front. In US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, we honor their contributions.
The official Hotel of The National WWII Museum, this stunning art-deco style property offers first-class accommodations, meeting spaces, and dining options providing a sophisticated lodging experience for guests.
The John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion features glass exterior walls that allow the public a permanent, behind-the-scenes view of the restoration and preservation of priceless WWII artifacts. New to the pavilion is the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Innovation Gallery, which focuses on how problems were solved during World War II through ingenuity and innovation.
Founders Plaza creates an impressive entryway to the Museum campus, safe passage for Museum guests, and a pleasant setting for rest and reflection as part of the visitor experience.
The soaring Bollinger Canopy of Peace, set to stand 150 feet tall, will unify the Museum's diverse campus and establish the Museum as a fixture on the New Orleans skyline.
Three building levels will explore the closing months of the war and immediate postwar years, concluding with an explanation of links to our lives today.