New Orleans is known worldwide for its unique cuisine, culture, and music. There is so much more to this historic city, founded as far back as 1718 initially by the French, making it one of the oldest cities in what is now the United States. It was also the home to Andrew Higgins, a remarkable businessman, and entrepreneur who designed and built over 20,000 boats in New Orleans. The United States Government commissioned Higgins for the amphibious assault in World War 11. The “Higgins boat,” or modified Eureka, the first LCVP ( Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel), aided military personnel in delivering soldiers and marines to the beaches of Normandy and the islands of the Pacific. Allied Commander and former President lauded Andrew Jackson Higgins, “the man who won the war for us.”
With that surprising history of a notable New Orleanian, It seems fitting that the number one attraction in New Orleans is The National WWII Museum. The Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that all generations can understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Through exhibits, multimedia experiences, and thousands of personal accounts, the Museum takes visitors on an immersive World War II tour in every war theater.
Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, the institution celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front.
Indeed, it is an extraordinary place. Recently, on the eve of Veterans Day, we traveled to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans as it unveiled its newest attraction, Expressions of America. This incredible production is a first-of-its-kind nighttime sound and light show celebrating the power of individual Americans to impact the world around them during the monumental conflict.
It was a particular time honoring veteran of all conflicts, especially the second world war veterans. Many are in their 90s, with over 25 making the arduous sojourn to this hallowed ground. The enduring WW11 veterans and The Medal of Honor recipient followed down the red carpet, many in walkers and wheelchairs, to thunderous applause and admiration from Active Duty, Veterans, and families to the premiere of the Impression of America, the Museum’s newest attraction.
Generously presented and supported by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, Expressions of America brings history to life like never before with music, archival footage, and personal reflections—a Marriage between cutting-edge technology and special effects with the actual words and stories of everyday people. The show places viewers in the center of the war’s most epic and personal moments, immersing them in the experiences of the men and women who served our country in every way imaginable during World War II.
“Expressions of America has been more than five years in the making, and we are thrilled to finally be able to share this groundbreaking project with Museum visitors,” said Stephen J. Watson, Museum President & CEO. “This innovative experience provides an exciting and relevant way for the Museum to connect with audiences of all ages and advance our educational mission.
As audiences experience the war through the thoughts and feelings of those who experienced it firsthand, they will better understand the WWII generation’s emotional journey to defeat tyranny and defend freedom worldwide.”
Centered outside under the Bollinger Canopy of Peace, Expressions of America uses state-of-the-art projection mapping technology. This projection then transforms architectural objects through movement and light — to project living murals up to 90 feet tall on the facades of the Museum’s buildings surrounding the Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground.
The media spectacular begins with host, actor, and veteran advocate Gary Sinise. The 90-minute experience includes a unique custom exhibit highlighting the role of correspondence during the war. Before it all begins, guests immerse themselves in a menu of festive food and drinks and live pre-show entertainment.
Expressions of America features an original musical score performed by New Orleans musicians. Present legendary performers of the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band send a powerful message about the tremendous impact that individual people — such as US Army nurse Major Birdie Daigle, Staff Sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient Edward A. Carter Jr., renowned entertainer Bob Hope, and others — can have in times of great conflict.
“I think my father would have been very honored to know that an esteemed institution like The National WWII Museum is helping to preserve his legacy for future generations through Expressions of America,” said Linda Hope, Bob Hope’s daughter and Chair/CEO of Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. “Nothing brought him more joy than to hear the laughter of the troops he entertained around the globe. In a time of global darkness, he understood the importance of bringing a piece of home to the front. I’m touched to know that his story and service will live on through this show.”
Using source material from the Museum’s collection — letters written during the war and oral histories — the show helps viewers understand how soldiers, nurses, chaplains, factory workers, entertainers, and supportive loved ones on the Home Front banded together. They each created meaningful acts of sacrifice, ingenuity, bravery, and love to preserve freedom.
“With Expressions of America, we are introducing viewers to the stories of World War II in a completely new way,” said Kimberly Guise, the Museum’s Senior Curator and Director for Curatorial Affairs. “The script is shaped by letters from a wide range of individuals, helping to present a diverse portrait of American life from a time when the war’s outcome was uncertain. I’m grateful to have participated in this project to bring the WWII generation to new audiences.”
This historical project was developed in partnership with Mousetrappe, an internationally acclaimed leader in designing and producing media-based shows and experiences for museums, theme parks, expos, and cultural attractions. Mousetrappe collaborated with Solomon Group — an award-winning entertainment design and production firm — on the technical design. Expressions of America utilizes best-in-class projection technology by Panasonic to share the Museum’s mission with a wider audience in a larger-than-life environment.
“When we began imagining Expressions of America with the Museum, the concept of an immersive outdoor experience was quite revolutionary,” said Daren Ulmer, Founder, and Chief Creative Officer of Mousetrappe. “The Museum’s vision and innovative approach to storytelling allowed us to go beyond current trends in immersive experiences to create a unique evening experience that pushes technology, scale and traditional historical presentation techniques to a whole new level.”
Pro Tip: When visiting the WWII Museum, book your stay at The Higgins Hotel and Conference Center ( A museum in its own right) right across the street.
Expression of America is exceptional in so many ways. The premiere was in conjunction with the Museum’s Veterans Day weekend celebration. The Museum honored all the nation’s veterans. It celebrated its service with commemorative programming, including the annual Victory Ball and the WWII veterans traveling with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Soaring Valor program.
Supported by the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and New Orleans & Company, Expressions of America will be a permanent addition to the Museum campus. The video production will run three to four times weekly, with seasonally varying show times and dates. Tickets to Expressions are available a la carte, with a three-course dinner, or as part of a museum admission package. Visit expressionsofamerica.org for more information or to purchase tickets.
When visiting New Orleans, the National WWll Museum is a must, and Expressions of America will change your life. Mousetrappe Media Director David Briggs most aptly said, “It is easy sometimes to look at historical pictures and think of these people as black and white and even color images of the past. They were young men and women with dreams, plans, love, and fears, and they did something extraordinary. When we look at our country today, we face many challenges, and there is often division facing our own. Here is a time when people put aside their differences to unite and show the world what can happen when Americans unite. I think it is important to connect personally to those heroes of WW11.”