Sunday, October 01, 2017

World War II Museums

We decided not to go back home before our New Orleans gig, so we had a week to play. I opened TripAdvisor  on my iPhone to see if there was something we should do in the Mobile area before heading to New Orleans. Trip Advisor always has something good to suggest in their things to do section. The one that struck our interest this time was the GulfQuest Maritime museum. In reading thru the reviews, someone mentioned how it was a perfect match for the book she was reading called "The Matthews Men." We are always looking for good books to read - so we looked up Matthews Men on Kindle and downloaded it along with the Audible companion - and Jim and I started listening to it when we drove. What a story! Did you know that the merchant marines had the highest WWII casualty rate of any american group, yet, because they weren't a branch of the military they got NO compensation or recognition for their sacrifices. The book follows one family with 7 brothers, 2 of whom were killed in torpedo attacks on their ships. The others were also torpedoed several times by German U-Boats, but they survived. When they returned, they had no GI bill to go to school, no help with mortgages to buy a house, no VA hospital to treat their ailments.

The museum was great! It also gave us another reason to love our little Roadtrek. No problem parking in the lot that only had regular car-size spaces.

The museum was all about the Gulf of Mexico, Merchant Marines during WWII, and just about anything that had to do with the sea. I think my favorite exhibit was a huge, high-tech globe, suspended in the middle of a room. A docent was there with a tablet. From the tablet, she could control the globe and display different data sets on its face. For example, you could see the ocean currents displayed as arrows and different colors to represent temperature. The photo below is showing all the commercial air flights that are in the sky at a given time. The most memorable data set was hurricanes. Seeing them all displayed on a globe made it so clear how there are no hurricanes around the middle. You're safe if you're near the equator!

So, this museum was not really about WWII, but since the Mobile area played such an important ship-building role during the war, there was a lot of info on it.

The main focus was the history of the Gulf region. Here was a piece of history I found particularly compelling, how one ship, one storm, one shipwreck played a major part in shaping the world as we know it.

The museum was right on the water at the cruise ship dock. We were lucky to be there at just the right time to see a big cruise ship cast off and start their cruise.

National WWII Museum in New Orleans

A few days later, in New Orleans, we also checked Trip Advisor and saw the National World War II Museum. We were now further along in our book and were learning all sorts of things about WWII, German U-Boats, Ship building to support the war, and Merchant mariners supporting troops. We had to go to this museum.
As good as the GulfQuest museum was, this one was even better. It started with a movie by Tom Hanks that summarized the entire war in 60 minutes. Very well done.
At the beginning of your tour of the museum you are issued a card with a magnetic strip - you activate the card at one of the exhibits and are given the identity of a soldier. Throughout the other exhibits, you can swipe your card and see how your soldier is doing. It really made the history come alive.

The museum made extensive use of videos. Each exhibit was an immersive experience.

If you're in New Orleans, this is a Must See museum.

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