Now Open! Monuments Men and Women Gallery
In the early years of finding the Monuments Men and Women—twenty-one in all—and hearing firsthand their incredible experiences, an idea emerged: recreate a salt mine and use it to allow visitors to learn about these soldiers and their wartime service not just to the United States, but civilization. In my vision, such a permanent museum exhibit would not only honor their military service but help raise global awareness of the importance of preserving our shared cultural heritage.
Now, fourteen years after first sharing that idea with Dr. Nick Mueller, who at the time was the chairman and CEO of our nation’s officially designated National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, that vision has become a reality. The newly opened Liberation Pavilion at the Museum will feature the permanent Monuments Men and Women Gallery. More than seven hundred fifty thousand people visit the Museum annually which means these heroes’ legacy will be preserved for all time, one of the very first objectives of my work and the principal reason I created the Monuments Men and Women Foundation in 2007.
Some people will assume that the Museum was inspired to tell these heroes’ story as a result of the interest shown in the subject by George Clooney, and Hollywood in general. Not so. To its great credit, The National WWII Museum embraced the idea in 2009, four years before the making and release of The Monuments Men film. I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have helped nurture this idea into reality, from Nick Mueller, Stephen Watson, President and CEO of The National WWII Museum and the Museum trustees, to Bob and Patty Hayes, to the family of Mildred Grinstead, the families of the Monuments Men and Women, and the exceptional staff of the Monuments Men and Women Foundation, among others.
I invite you to visit the Museum to see the richness of their storytelling of this epic event in world history and the extraordinary contributions of so many Americans, in particular those who never returned home.