DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is bringing the past into the future.
Monday, the museum debuted the country’s first “HistoPad” augmented reality exhibit.
The interactive, 3-D immersive experience highlights the missions of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France in the summer of 1944.
Jim Coffman, an almost 89-year-old Vietnam War Veteran recalled friends and relatives fighting overseas during the infamous D-Day invasion. He was moved by the exhibit’s dedication ceremony.
“It should be here. It’s for people all over the world to come and see,” said Coffman.
The veteran was among several hundred people in attendance for the grand opening of ‘D-Day: Freedom from Above.’ The 3,500 square foot exhibit allows visitors to navigate through historically-validated 3-D recreations and understand D-Day’s key moments.
“The visitor goes through this immersive experience and really feels what it was like to be a paratrooper on D-Day,” explained museum curator Jeff Duford. “Then when they’re done, they can go to our World War II gallery and see real airplanes, the type that were used.”
The exhibit utilizes tablets running the “HistoPad” program, created by French company Histovery. A dozen French museums and monuments already use the technology, including the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mere-Eglise dedicated to the paratroopers and Allied forces during the D-Day invasion.
“Just like in World War II, where the French and the Americans worked together to defeat an evil regime, here again today, 75 years later, we have French and Americans working together to commemorate this shared history,” said Duford.
“It’s our joint history,” added Bruno de sa Moreira, the CEO and cofounder of Histovery. “What we celebrate here and what we want to remember here is some part of our common history.”
Visitors pay $5 to enter the exhibit and rent a tablet. When pointed at one of the display screens, it displays 3-D relics, 360 degree landscapes and events from the perspective of a paratrooper.
The creators designed the program with young viewers in mind and said they hope the cutting-edge technology will engage new generations with history.
“We have to find a good way, a good medium, to that with young people… because they are the future of course,” said Magali Mallet, the director of the Sainte-Mere-Eglise Airborne Museum.
The exhibit will last for a limited time through 2019. You can find a full list of D-Day 75th anniversary events at the Air Force Museum by clicking here.