This may irk some of you because WW II is such a venerable, sacrosanct subject, that to say anything negative would seem like nothing short of a blasphemy. Yet, please remember, I am not writing a review of that horrific event, (probably the worst in human history), but of this so called "National WWII Museum", which, like many things in that largely misunderstood city, is, quite simply, a failure, or worse, a straight rip off. This goes hand in hand with voodoo shops (there was never any of that mumbo jumbo around until it was imported for the tourist trade - just ask any respectable and educated swamp tour guide, who's local heritage goes back generations) or Cajun cuisine -(the Cajuns never lived in the city - again, go and ask them; in Thibodaux, Houma, the Bayous; wherever, if you disagree).
Let me preface this review by saying I am a history buff, and human conflict - as in war - is what interests me the most. I will add that I went there with my 9 year old, who likes military hardware, and has seen some good WWII museums in Europe. I will only say that he was LIVID with disappointment when we left. So was I.
Lets begin with the building itself: its small, and it looks like there isn't much there, but there is a big one across the street, that looks like a part of the Museum complex. Surprise: there is nothing exhibited in it! It's a restaurant, designed to separate you from your $, and a theater, I think. The exhibits are all in the small building. There is a C-46 - a military version of a DC3 (something you can see in many regional airports); they said they have a Sherman tank, but it wasn't there at the time; (i know people who own them privately, but they don't call their shed a National Museum), there are some trucks and a couple of Higgins boats, (which the locals are proud of because those were built there during the War), and the rest, dear reader, is just a bunch of grainy pictures on the walls (you can find those yourself with 3 clicks of your mouse), plus some small artifacts, letters and some embarrassing stuff that looked like it was pilfered form the pockets of the vanquished. There is material on Normandy, and the Pacific War. Excuse me, but that particular War was in large percentage won - and lost - on battlefields east of Berlin. NOT A PEEP ABOUT THAT, or 40 or more million who perished there . So, perhaps it should be called the "National Exhibit of the Pacific/Normandy Theater?" Even as that, its rather poor, and certainly very incomplete. Now, you can drive yourself a couple of hours east and see a very well preserved WWII battleship in Mobile Bay, and there, on the shore - surprise! is a lot more WWII (plus other conflicts) hardware than you will find on 945 Magazine Street - but without undue fanfare, or a pompous, misleading name on it.
If you choose to visit this "Museum", and leave dispirited like i did, a visit to the "Alabama" Battleship Park might help ease the disappointment. You can stop by at Stennis Space center, see an Atlas V 1st stage at Michoud, or take a really cool swamp tour on the Pearl River along the way and make a day of it.
Now, those of you that are considering a written response to this review and want to give me some stick about it, plz, don't bother, as nothing will change my mind about the place. Also, I am not exactly a tourist: i lived in NOLA for about a year.. Finally, like the title says, I am usually very positive even if I am not exactly thrilled about the subject of my reviews, but WWII and it's history is visceral with me, and I simply hate to see this subject so shortchanged.
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