New Orleans is famous for its unique food and amazing music but for the traveler there is now also a group of world-class attractions that will enrich your New Orleans stay. In our 4 day stay in the Big Easy Charlene and I spent most of our time exploring the cities rich treasure of live music and unique food but on the last two days we took some time off to explore two very interesting New Orleans attractions.
On Wednesday we took four hours and went to the World War II museum. This huge museum is on Magazine Street and within walking distance of the French Quarter. The museum offers an amazing insight into the worlds greatest war. You will see displays of everything from the Bombers that are hanging from the ceiling to a full-sized Higgins landing craft like the landing crafts used in “D” day.
One display that I found amazing was a walking tour thru the history of propaganda in Nazi Germany. “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” was a traveling exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. If you have ever wondered how a man like Adolf Hitler captured Germany’s democracy and converted it into the horror that led to WWII this walking tour is a must see. During the tour you will see how the Nazi party use propaganda and miss information to take a healthy democracy and in a few short years transform it into the darkest dictatorship the world has ever seen.
After the propaganda tour you can wander the museum checking out the models of dozens of naval vessels or reading the heart wrenching letter of the young men and women from all sides of the conflict. The WWII museum is not just about the weapons of war but is about the people who fought the war. Many of the exhibits explored the emotions, dreams and beliefs that hundreds of millions of people who were swept into the war experienced. The stark reality of the WWII museum experience does what every museum should do, it leaves its viewers deeply moved but also with the history we need not to repeat the past.
In classic New Orleans tradition music is an intricate part of the WWII museum. B B’s Stage Door Canteen offers music from the 40’s from groups like The Vic-Tones a three-piece vocal group that sang renditions of favorites from the war years like the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and Pistol Packn’ Mama. B B’s Stage Door offers a constantly changing array of artists performing the music that entertained our troops during the war years.
This very modern museum is now rated the #4 museum in the United States and is still growing and adding exhibits.
The second attraction we visited took us from the stark and thought-provoking experience of World War II to the pure fantasy of Mardi Gras. At 1380 Port of New Orleans is the Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World Museum. Since the 1900’s Mardi Gras has been a staple in New Orleans society and the Mardi Gras floats have been the center or hundreds of parades that have thrilled and amazed Mardi Gras crowds by the millions. The question that every one that has experienced Mardi Gras should ask is, “What do they do with all those floats. Well the answer is simple Blain Kern’s the master float builder has them in 15 warehouses spread up and down the banks of the Mississippi River. Only a few miles from our base in the French Quarter we found one of the 15 warehouses that the Blain Kerns uses to store his unique form of Paper Marche Art. In a large warehouse that Mr. Kerns has opened to the public he offers a view of the pure fantasy that is represented by hundreds of statues that have adorned the floats of Mardi Gras.
At the museum you will see huge replicas of King and Queen Kong, giant pirates and fanciful replicas of Wonder Dog and Snow White. The patrons of this amazing museum are allowed to wander the thousands of square feet of storage area and view the statues that have been saved from thousands of Mardi Gras parades. A second treat is the ware house is also a working factory with the artists that create the floats actually working on floats while you watch. You will see artists painting the fantastic creatures that will adorn next years floats or sculpting their unusual art out of huge blocks of styrofoam.
If you love fantasy and you love art the Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World Museum is a must see.
For the curious traveler New Orleans offers everything from world-class art museums to small museum/shops dedicated to the arcane practice of voodoo.