Insights for Destination & Leisure Marketers

How An Interactive Exhibit At A Museum Connects Visitors to the Heroes of WWII

interactive exhibit at a museum

Some experiences are too good not to share. I recently had the opportunity to visit the National WWII museum in New Orleans while on vacation with my family. This is an amazing collection honoring those who served. I would recommend it to anyone. The collection at this museum does a phenomenal job of telling the huge story that is America’s involvement in WWII. The real standout? “The Dog Tag Experience” – a fantastic example of an interactive exhibit at a museum.  This immersive experience invites you to explore history from the view of a specific, real American soldier – and how they were involved with the War.

interactive exhibit at a museum

Heros Comes To Life

Upon arrival, visitors are given an RFID “dog tag” –  and each one is assigned to a specific, real American soldier. My soldier was Chaplin JV Lafluer, a volunteer priest from the Army Air Corps. The experience brought WWII to life through Chaplin Lafleur, from his personal history before the war, to his exemplary service at Clark Field in the Phillippines, which was attacked by the Japanese the day after Pearl Harbor. Chaplin Lafluer earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a distinguished service Cross for his part in aiding the wounded and administering last rites during this attack.  Lafleur was taken as a POW by the Japanese was taken as a POW when the US surrendered Philippines, which I was able see through Lafleur’s eye. He served in multiple prison camps, and while being transferred to yet another prison site, was killed as his ship was sunk. For me, Lafleur’s story made the museum experience all the more personal and moving.

interactive exhibit at a museum

Through A Soldier’s Eyes

As you make your way through the museum, you wave your dog tags in front of the many interactive displays. This shows you where your soldier was, and what they were doing during that stage and location of the war. You can also “collect” items to save and review from home – like videos, oral histories, and artifacts you saw while exploring the museum itself.

interactive exhibit at a museum

Interactive On Site – And Off.

The interaction from home is a total bonus – especially for people like me. With two young children (and varied attention spans), I don’t always get to linger as long as I’d like. My dog tags allow me to go back anytime and really delve in. Once you leave, you simply enter your dog tag ID number on the Dog Tag Experience Website. Then everything you saved and relive your personal soldiers’ experience in your own time.

My only complaint? Since the exhibit was launched in 2014, the Dog Tag Experience site isn’t responsive. It also doesn’t work that well on mobile devices. Regardless, this effort set the bar pretty high for an interactive experience at a museum. Other cultural and educational attractions should definitely take note. This was not only a great way to engage visitors while they are on site, but after the fact as well.