The National WWII Museum Founder Comes to Rhodes

WWII Museum Exterior
The John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion at the museum features glass exterior walls that allow the public a permanent, behind-the-scenes view of the restoration and preservation of priceless World War II artifacts. (courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

Dr. Gordon H. Mueller, founding president and CEO of The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA, gave a talk on campus Oct. 9 about the impact of World War II on public memory in the United States.

Mueller, a former member of the University of New Orleans’ history faculty, and his colleague Stephen Ambrose came up with the idea for the museum, which opened on June 6, 2000, the 56th anniversary of D-Day. In 2004, Congress changed its name from The National D-Day Museum to The National World War II Museum. 

“It is a great pleasure for me to welcome to Rhodes Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, who is a pioneer in the field of public history and who has changed the way we think about the memory of World War II,” said Dr. Jeffrey Jackson, chair of Rhodes’ Department of History. The department, along with The National World War II Museum and Rhodes’ Communities in Conversation, sponsored the talk. 

Mueller retired as head of the museum in 2017, but he still gives talks about the importance of capturing oral histories from veterans and those who lived through the war so that other generations can know their stories and understand the price of freedom.

“It is about the American Experience—why the war was fought, how it was won, and what it means today, and so those are three legs of our mission,” Mueller told the Rhodes audience. 

The museum holds exhibits from the war’s beginnings in the 1930s, to the Normandy Invasion and the battles of the Pacific Islands, to its ending in 1945. Mueller currently is completing a book about the D-Day invasion based on personal accounts, images, and artifacts from the museum’s collections.