D-Day museum honors creator of landing craft

NEW ORLEANS -- A very different experience from Jazzland will await visitors to the National D-Day Museum.

On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops took part in the D-Day invasion of Europe, the first strike of Operation Overlord. The 70,000-square-foot, $25 million museum is to open on the 56th anniversary of that day in a renovated brewery in the city's warehouse district.

The museum's founder is author, teacher and historian Stephen Ambrose. Along with celebrating the men and women who served in World War II, the museum honors Andrew Higgins, creator of the Higgins boat, the landing craft used in the D-Day invasion. More than 30,000 were built in New Orleans.

The museum includes a Higgins craft, built to the original specifications, which will be the centerpiece in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, the museum's entrance.

The pavilion includes two WWII airplanes overhead: an American Grumman Avenger and a British Spitfire.

Initially, exhibits will include jeeps, a tank, a half-track, German officer staff cars and sentry boxes. The pavilion will house traveling exhibits and provide space for meetings and conferences.

It also will include a museum shop, a cafe and a 110-seat theater featuring a documentary, "D-Day Remembered." The second floor exhibits will have such general themes as the Late 1930s: the Balance of Power; the Road to War; Mobilization; the Home Front, and the Course of War.

On the third floor, themes revolve around Operation Overlord, from strategy through the actual invasion and the road to Berlin.

Some 3,500 artifacts of D-Day and subsequent campaigns, the core of the museum's collection, were acquired from the Musee de la Liberation in St. Lo, France. Many other artifacts were donated by veterans and their families.

All exhibits will be open on June 6, except for a second phase included in the $25 million project -- a 5,000-square-foot exhibition on the war in the Pacific.

The Pacific exhibit, to open in August 2001, will be housed on the second floor, adjacent to the 8,000 square feet of existing exhibits.

The museum's funding includes $6 million from the federal government and $6.5 million from the state of Louisiana and some 40 national and international corporations.

The museum, located at 923 Magazine St., near the French Quarter and the central business district, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on certain holidays.

Admission is $6; (ages 18 and younger, $4); group rates will be available. Gail Newchurch is handling group inquiries, pending hiring of a sales coordinator.

National D-Day Museum
Phone: (877) 813-3329 or (504) 529-6012 ext. 4
Fax: (504) 527-6088
Web: www.ddaymuseum.org.

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