NEW ORLEANS -- The National D-Day Museum is gearing up for its
dedication and opening here June 6.
Plans include a parade of ships on June 3 (all Allied nations
have been invited to send a vessel; the U.S. and France have
June 6 events will include a parade of veterans that will take
place on Poydras Street, followed by ceremonies at the New Orleans'
Arena, which opened in October 1999.
C.J. Roberts, the museum's chief administrative officer, said it
is hoped that 10,000 will attend the arena event.
On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops took part in the D-Day
invasion in Europe, the first strike of Operation Overlord, which
ultimately freed France from Nazi control.
The 70,000-square-foot, $25 million museum will open on the 56th
anniversary of that day in a renovated brewery in the city's
Roberts said the museum is on schedule: the brewery renovation
was completed earlier this month, and the museum's new entrance
pavilion is scheduled to be done by May.
According to its mission statement, "The National D-Day Museum
celebrates the American spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage and
sacrifice of the men and women who won World War II."
It also "promotes the exploration and expression of these values
by future generations."
The museum is being built in New Orleans in honor of Andrew
Higgins, creator of the Higgins boat, the landing craft that made
the invasion possible.
More than 30,000 of the landing craft, which delivered men and
supplies to the beaches on D-Day, were built in New Orleans.
The museum's founder is author, teacher and historian Stephen
Ambrose, who came up with the idea for the facility in the
Ambrose said that in a conversation he had with Dwight D.
Eisenhower in 1964, the retired four-star general and former
president referred to Higgins as "the man who won the war for
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 building.
Construction of the 22,500-square-foot pavilion, funded by the
state, started last August. The pavilion will include two World War
II planes overhead: an American Grumman Avenger and a British
Its initial 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
It also will include a museum shop, a cafe and a 110-seat
theater featuring a documentary, "D-Day Remembered."
The museum's second floor exhibits will have such general themes
as the the Late 1930s: the Balance of Power; the Road to War;
Mobilization; the Home Front, and the Course of War.
On the third floor, the themes revolve around Operation
Overlord, from strategy and plans through to the invasion of the
beaches and the road to Berlin and victory.
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, in 1994.
Many other artifacts were donated by veterans and their
All exhibits will be open on June 6 except for a second phase
(included in the $25 million price tag): a 5,000-square-foot
exhibition on the war in the Pacific.
"During planning, we heard from Pacific veterans who said, 'we
rode Higgins boats, too,' and felt left out," said Roberts.
The Pacific exhibit, due to open in August 2001, will be housed
on the second floor, adjacent to the 8,000 square feet of existing
Roberts said that nearly all of the $25 million needed for the
museum has been raised.
Of the amount, $6 million came from the federal government and
$6.5 million from the state of Louisiana. Donors include 40
national and international corporations.
The museum is at 923 Magazine St., near the French Quarter and
the central business district.
It will be open daily (except for certain holidays), 9 a.m. to 5
Admission will be $6 (age 18 and under, $4), and group rates are
available. For further information, contact the museum at (504)
527-6012; fax (504) 527-6088, or visit on the Web at www.ddaymuseum.org.