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Nancy Parode

Behind the Lines Tour at The National WWII Museum, New Orleans

By December 9, 2012

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Haven't you always wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a museum? Last week, at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, I got the chance to find out.

I took the Museum's "Behind the Lines" tour, which offers participants the opportunity to go behind the visitor barriers in the Museum itself and inside the large and small artifact storage areas. Best of all, your tour guide is one of the Museum's curators. On my tour, curator Kim Guise, who has just finished curating the Museum's excellent Guests of the Third Reich: American POWs in Europe exhibit, took us into the warehouse pictured here (the airplane is a TBM Avenger), where we saw field guns, armored vehicles and much more. She next brought us back into the Museum and helped us clamber onto a Sherman tank. I did manage to fit inside (no small task), but I was left wondering how five soldiers were able to squeeze into that tiny space.

Our tour ended in the Museum's vault, which contains all manner of artifacts. Everywhere I looked, there was something interesting to see - boots, coats, war journals created by POWs, oral histories on cassette tapes and drawer after drawer of soldiers' firearms and knives.

While the "Behind the Lines" experience is an expensive adventure, it's worth the money if you are fascinated by all things related to World War II. For a less expensive, but still fascinating, look at the weapons used by Allied and Axis personnel, consider the "Call of Duty" tour, during which you can actually handle some of the weapons in the Museum's collection. Be sure to plan your visit so you can also view the Museum's permanent exhibits and special exhibits and see the 4D film Beyond All Boundaries; they're all well worth your time.

Note: Children under 14 may not participate in these special tours.

Photo © Old Line Photography. Licensed to About.com.

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