National World War II Museum Expansion Grand Opening

World War II (1939-1945)Tom HanksRita HayworthTom BrokawFrank Sinatra

Over the next few days, Doctor Nick Mueller will be thinking of his best friend Stephen Ambrose. "We have a big story. A great story. One that will be captivating people." In 1990, Ambrose and Mueller wanted to open a small D-day museum. 10 years and $25 million dollars later, the National World War II Museum opened Downtown. But now, the museum is undergoing a $300 million dollar expansion.

"This is a bigger than life experience," says Mueller. The new building, set to open officially Friday, houses three new venues. The Stage Door Canteen is a place where visitors can go back in time and experience the morale-boosting performances from favorites like Rita Hayworth and Frank Sinatra. "And they danced with the troops and gave them a moment of hope and truth and laughter and fun," says Mueller.

The Solomon Victory Theater will show movies based on World War II, namely Tom Hank's film 'Beyond All Boundries.' It promises to be an interactive experience for everyone. "Your senses are bombarded. The seats shake as the tanks are rolling over. It snows during the Battle of the Bulge."

And finally, John Besh's American Sector restaurant is opening -- serving up 40's inspired foods like sandwiches and fountain drinks.

Some big names will be in town for the celebration -- Tom Hanks, Tom Brokaw and more. For Dr. Mueller, the expansion isn't just close to his heart but also to his best friend's. "He's probably standing over my shoulder saying, 'Get the rest of it done.' But he would be so excited."

And the expansion of the museum isn't anywhere near complete. Soon, plans are underway to break ground on the Campaigns Pavillion, and later, two other pavillions -- The Liberation Pavilion and the US Freedom Pavilion.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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