The World War II Museum isn't just a single building. An event so monumental to American history demands a vast space to tell its stories. The museum has long aspired for expansion, from its earliest beginnings as the D-Day Museum to its post-Katrina resurrection. The latest addition to its campus — the Campaigns of Courage Pavilion — opens December 13th and Curbed NOLA was there for a sneak peek of this inspired space.
The Campaigns of Courage Pavilion features the exhibit "Road to Berlin," a sequential stretch of immersive environments designed to take the viewer chronologically through the U.S. military experience in the European theatre, from the villages of North Africa to the frozen forests where Allied troops held off the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.
Outside, the new building looks slightly off-kilter. That's on purpose — the pavilion's exterior appearance, as with other buildings of the expansion, was designed by Voorsanger Mathes LLC to evoke the feelings of displacement and disruption spread worldwide by the war. Stephen Watson, the museum's executive vice president, says that an unofficial motto of the expansion has been "no 90-degree angles".
The mood shifted from atonal to intimate in the exhibit space, impressing the tangible details of each war locale — Saharan sunlight, patterned wallpaper of a bombed-out villa, snowy rocks of the Ardennes. The Campaigns of Courage Pavilion includes artifacts, oral histories, photos and film that documented the Allied struggles and eventual victory.
words and photos by Art Bueno