There are some museums you come across and will never forget. For me, it was the National World War II museum. Never before have I seen so a large collection of artifacts artfully mixed with displays and personal stories in one place before. This museum cannot be contained in one building. Instead, there are over 5 different campuses. Trying to see it all can be intimidating. I’m sharing some of my National WWII Museum tips for families.
This post is sponsored by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. There may be affiliate links within the post. Clicking on them doesn’t cost you anything more. But I do earn a small commission. I never promote things I don’t stand behind.
The WWII Museum wasn’t even on my radar until my nephew mentioned it. This was the one thing he wanted to do, as opposed to mine which was Cafe du Monde Beignets. I’m always up for anything so we decided to check it out. Traveling with my sister-in-law and her family along with my own family was a mix of different interests. I was a little apprehensive about how it would go. Aside from group management, the museum was able to captivate everyone.
What is the National WWII Museum in New Orleans?
The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is one of the largest museums devoted solely to WWII. There are 5 primary campuses with more auxiliary campuses. Each one is filled with artifacts and stories told by those that lived through it. I was shocked and some of the documents, plans, and other artifacts shown in the museum. Each exhibit mixed artifacts, written descriptions, audio, and video with personal accounts of service members.
The two most impressive works are the Campaigns of Courage: European And Pacific Theaters, showcasing the Road to Berlin, and Road to Tokyo exhibits. Both of these are immersive exhibits, traveling through the war battle by battle all the way to the final mission and surrender.
Road To Berlin
Road to Toyko
Nothing is left out of the museum. They touch on the Internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, Civil Rights, the factories at home, war bonds, and even the propaganda. With the addition of the new building being worked on, it will focus on the internment that happened during the war, including the Hallocost. The museum tells an important chapter of American History.
The National WWII Museum Tips for Families
Every museum has its quirks. With this being so immersive, I wanted to share a few of the National WWII Museum tips for families I got while I was there. Pro-Tip: Don’t be shy with your cellphone take close-up pictures of the writeups and images for later so you can keep those kiddos on the move. Please be aware that the atrocities which occurred during the war are visible throughout the museum, small children may need to be redirected away from certain sections.
Reserve tickets ahead of time
Before leaving for your trip to New Orleans, make sure to reserve your tickets to the National WWII Museum. Getting in first thing in the morning fills up and with COVID limiting the number of people that can enter at once, it may be hard to get in. Then get your tickets for the Beyond All Boarders show. More on that later.
Get your Campus Pass for the WII Museum by clicking here.
The dog tag experience
One way to keep your kids entertained is by having them register for a set of Dog Tags. Instead of having them printed with your name and info, you’ll follow another person through World War II. When you get to a Kiosk, they can scan their tag and hear that person’s story. There are men and women to choose from, service members from every branch, and every ethnicity. They’ll find someone to relate to. These interactive exhibits require users to read – a Covid 19 Restriction.
You don’t have to visit the campuses in order
There is no set order to visit everything in. Even with that, you can carve out a little more alone time in some of the exhibits but save the Hall of Democracy for last. Since it’s at the main entrance, everyone goes there first. Instead, head over to one of the other campuses first.
Inquire about your own family history before going
History always comes alive when you have a personal connection to it. With WWII touching almost everyone’s life during the 1940s, chances are you have people in your family that fought, worked in factories, or were impacted by the war effort in some way or another. Before going, ask your family about their personal experience. Even the basics like, where they landed and countries will get you started. Chances are there is information in the museum about what they went through.
In my own personal family, both of my grandfathers fought along with both of my husband’s grandfathers. With as much loss of life as there was, it’s crazy to think that we would not be here today if they did not come back from war. One thing I picked up at the museum was, you didn’t have to fight to be impacted by the events.
Go on all levels of US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
The US Freedom Pavilion holds two collections of Macro Artifacts. The Warbirds and Vehicles of war. What’s most impressive about the US Freedom Pavilion is getting to see the additional detail of each aircraft. As they hang from the ceiling, you can visit different floors to observe different elements of the planes. It’s very impressive.
If you don’t think you can make it up all those stairs, no worries, there is an elevator too!
Wear a cotton shirt
With the building spread out and multiple entry points, the National WWII Museum tracks who have paid by a clip you wear on your shirt collar. This is a genius way to spot everyone without having to show tickets or worry about having a sticker stay on your shirt. The clip uses plastic prongs to secure it to your shirt. If you had a delicate material, I could see this snagging.
See Beyond All Borders
One of the most visited pieces of the museum is the Beyond All Borders film. It was actually the hardest to reserve tickets for because of the demand. The film is a 4D movie. Immediately I started to envision some of the corny 4D I’ve seen in nature films and being splashed with water. This was nothing of the sort. The elements added to the experience in a very respectful way. Just a warning before going, there are some scenes that really young kids may have trouble with as it is real footage from the war. I think they did an excellent job giving a good overview of how World War II was fought, especially for those that had no clue what the war was all about.
Don’t forget to eat something
There a few different options for dining. First, is the American Sector Restaurant & Bar located on-site. If you plan on dining here, get here early and not at the top of the hour when a showing of Beyond All Border gest out. You’ll be waiting forever. If you are unfortunate enough to get stuck in this trap like I was, consider going off campus to one of the other great restaurants. You may be able to tide them over with some snacks in the outdoor pavilion. Or you can head out to the great dining nearby.
Take your time
The National WWII Museum is huge. It encompasses five different campuses and they are adding on a sixth one at the time of writing this. You can spend the entire day listening to everything in there. If you were with a group of people that didn’t have the patience to read it all, I highly recommend snapping a few pictures of the signs as you go and read it more information when you have time.
Taking pictures of the placards allowed us to read more information about what we saw after we got back to the hotel.
One of the biggest asks from all the kids was, can we go to the gift shop? Buildings 1, 2 4, and 5 all have a gift shop of some sort, so there is no need to go back to the very beginning. The Solomon Victory Theatre has a giftshop devoted entirely to Rosie the Riveter. Building 4 (Hall of Democracy) had the largest gift shop with plenty of kid’s planes and off-brand Legos. Fun fact, Lego has long avoided making realistic military and conflict-based kits, as part of an unwritten rule (which was actually codified in 2010). I was bummed I didn’t pick up anything for myself so after I got back I ended up finding my own Rosie the Riveter Mug for my desk.
Get your Campus Pass for the WII Museum by clicking here.
On a whole, New Orleans is doing a great job respecting and enforcing Mask Mandates. Their strict policies are part of the reason we decided it would be a good destination for our first trip out of Minnesota. While they all have protocols in place, some are better than others at enforcing them. The WWII Museum does an exceptional job. Not only do they have a mask mandated in place, but they also actively limit the number of people in each exhibit, promoting social distancing guidelines. This is something I hope never ends because it gives people the freedom to explore without constantly trying to look over someone’s shoulder. Get your kids excited with these Camo Face Masks. Our kids were saving their camo outfits specifically for the museum.
The Dirty Facts about the National WWII Museum
- The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is opened daily from 9am-5pm. They close on Mardi Gras Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
- WWII Veterans are free. Adults are $28.50 with discounts for seniors, Students, Military, and others. Beyond All Boundaries is an additional $7.
- Pay Parking lots are adjacent to the Museum
Would I go back to the National WWII Museum with the family?
The museum was a wealth of information. I feel like even though we took pictures of everything, we still flew through it. You could sit there for days listening to all the stories and still not even scratch the surface of what the museum holds. Since leaving the museum we have talked more in-depth with our grandparents to hear their stories. It still shocks me what little I knew. I would defiantly go back and explore it further.