As part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the National World War II Museum recently opened Bayou to Battlefield, an exhibition illuminating the legacy of Andrew Jackson Higgins, the industrialist who changed the course of the Second World War. Ideum is proud to have worked with the Museum to create a new interactive exhibit for the gallery. Running on an Ideum multitouch table equipped with custom sound wands, the exhibit allows visitors to trace the history of Higgins’s maritime innovations through images, videos, and oral histories.
Higgins revolutionized the design and production of naval vessels at his New Orleans factories. His most famous creation was the Higgins Boat, the rugged landing craft that ferried thousands of soldiers onto invasion beaches around the globe—including the shores of Normandy on D-Day. Thousands of these iconic vessels were built at Higgins plants, as well as PT Boats, ships, and a wide range of essential military components.
Higgins Boats were particularly critical to America’s military success because they made the broader wartime strategy of beachfront invasions possible. In fact, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe, declared that Higgins “was the man who won the war for us.”
Higgins was a pioneer in other ways as well. At a time when American workplaces were largely segregated and opportunities for women and minorities were limited, Higgins insisted that his factories would employ the most skilled workers available regardless of race or gender—and pay them equitably as well. By 1943, Higgins factories employed more than 20,000 workers in New Orleans, some of whom tell their stories in the oral histories featured in our interactive exhibit.
This is Ideum’s second collaboration with the National World War II Museum. In 2018, we created On the Road with Bob Hope, an interactive tracing the journey’s of Hope’s troupe of entertainers as they visited WWII soldiers in the European and Pacific Theaters. This exhibit is now part of the Museum’s traveling exhibition So Ready for Laughter. We look forward to our next project together!