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Battleship Cove launches new exhibit on Pearl Harbor

Courtesy Battleship Cove

FALL RIVER, Mass — The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, that launched the United States into World War II is brought to life at a new exhibit that opened in August at Battleship Cove.

“The Pearl Harbor Experience” is a 15- to 20-minute program that uses state-of-the-art technology, complete with sights and sounds, to immerse visitors into what it felt like on that historic day.

“We are introducing an exciting new experience seldom found within the museum world, connecting the audience with those men and women whose lives were permanently changed by the attack,” said Battleship Cove executive director Brad King.

A portion of the museum’s outdoor waterfront area near the USS Joseph P. Kennedy and USS Massachusetts has been repainted and decorated to look like a Navy yard at Pearl Harbor in 1941, complete with a 1941 staff car and men dressed in period military uniforms standing on the deck of the Massachusetts.

The experience begins with 1941 newsreels and period advertisements shown on a large video screen near the USS Massachusetts, while 1940s music and sound clips of baseball radio announcers fill the air.

“It is the period right before the attack, a quiet Sunday day,” said Paula Hague, group sales manager. “Then you hear planes coming over and strafing.”

Small, submerged water jets spray water in the air to simulate strafing. “When they release bombs, there are big explosions out of the water,” said Hague. “With surround sound, it is loud. We have people look up in the sky when they hear the planes.”

At the end, newsreel scenes of the destruction and President Franklin D. Roosevelt calling it a “day that will live in infamy” in an address to Congress are shown on the screen.

Although “The Pearl Harbor Experience” is designed to entertain, King noted that an important goal is to encourage people to learn more about the lessons of Pearl Harbor.

“By engaging the audience emotionally in an immersion experience, we hope to inspire them to explore further and visit the museum’s exhibitions and memorials with a new perspective,” he said.

The experience happens on the hour several times a day on weekends through October and will resume on a daily basis during the museum’s summer season next year.

Battleship Cove is a maritime museum with one of the world’s largest collections of historic naval ships, among them two PT boats and memorabilia that are part of the National PT Boat Museum on site.