Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Museum shows war history in 3-D

Deep in the trench, lanterns flicker as machine guns above fire away. "Rat-a-tat-tat." The sound of the diving Red Baron is suddenly heard as smoke pours in. The radio chatter intensifies. In the distance, the rumble of tanks begins.

Created as a living experience of history, Largo's new Armed Forces Military Museum is set to open Aug. 16. The 35,000-square-foot museum features lifelike displays and engages multiple senses with theatrical lighting, unusual artifacts, projected video and well-placed sound effects.

"I was saddened to learn that the younger generation doesn't know much of our history beyond the Civil War," said museum founder and president John J. Piazza Sr. "My teenage granddaughter didn't know who Hitler was. The museum is designed to give people a sense of events … yet keep their attention."

Piazza began collecting military memorabilia as a young man when he was given old dummy hand grenades and spent brass shells. As his collection of memorabilia grew, he displayed some of it with a mobile museum. He took 16 displays to local schools and public gatherings.

Eventually, the collection filled multiple warehouses. When he sold his health care business three years ago, Piazza was able to focus more on his memorabilia.

"I turned over my collection to the museum, which is a nonprofit foundation," Piazza said. "It's been a dream to display this collection."

The Armed Forces Military Museum is one of the largest collections of its kind in Florida not funded by the government.

One of the dramatic dioramas is the bombing of Pearl Harbor, set on the flight deck of the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi.

"We got actual blueprints of the Akagi," said creative director David Marino. "It is all built to scale. We have to be accurate."

Actual Japanese and American black-and-white film (now video) footage is projected onto a multistory screen. Sound effects of incoming planes and dropping bombs are interspersed with choreographed music. Four model ships from the movie set of Tora! Tora! Tora! are in the simulated water.

"People who have seen this say they feel like they are right there experiencing the Pearl Harbor attack," Piazza said.

Equipment, uniforms and weapons representing U.S. military history from the Korean War to the present day are on display and more scenes are planned for the future.

Three unusual artifacts are a full service uniform of Saddam Hussein (the only one known to be in the United States, according to the museum), a Ford M151 experimental utility truck and a DUKW amphibian landing craft from World War II.

"Almost everything is authentic," museum employee Jim Fallin said. "The few reproductions are marked as such."

At the moment, the dioramas depict scenes from only World Wars I and II. But the museum also has exhibits featuring U.S. military materiel from the Korean War to today. In the near future, those, too, will be incorporated into dioramas.

"We want to become a major destination for Tampa Bay for locals, tourists, Scouts and school groups. We're building an attraction that is family friendly and family affordable."

>>IF YOU GO

Armed Forces Military Museum

Address: 2050 34th Way N

Grand opening: From 10 am to 5 p.m. Aug. 16. Admission that day only is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 7 to 12. Free for children under 6, and for active and retired military with ID. Purchase tickets at the museum.

Museum hours beginning Aug. 19: From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Regular admission: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 7 to 12. Free for children under 6, and for active and retired military personnel with ID.

To learn more: Visit www.armedforcesmuseum.com or call (727) 539-8371.

Museum shows war history in 3-D 07/19/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 19, 2008 4:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh

    Soccer

    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.