National WWII Museum Appoints Internationally Renowned Scholars To Lead Education, Research Programs

NEW ORLEANS – The National WWII Museum announced the appointments of Colonel (retired) Peter Crean Sr. and Martin Loicano, PhD, to lead educational and research programs designed to expand and globalize the Museum’s collection of artifacts, oral histories and thought-leadership initiatives.

         Col. Peter Crean has been named The National WWII Museum’s vice president for Education and Access. Most recently, Crean served as the director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Martin Loicano, PhD, has assumed the role of executive director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, after serving as chief historian for the Office of the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers Europe in Belgium.

         “The Museum’s continued goal is to educate current and future generations on the efforts and sacrifices made during World War II to secure freedom around the world,” said Stephen J. Watson, president and CEO, The National WWII Museum. “We are thrilled to have Pete and Martin join our staff to help bring our mission and message to even wider audiences around the world through innovative outreach initiatives. Their keen expertise, knowledge of international organizations and leadership experience with military operations will allow us to drive these efforts forward.”

         Both Crean and Loicano will play pivotal roles in the planning and development of the upcoming Hall of Democracy, which is currently being constructed at the site of the institution’s former Victory Garden, reps said. When completed in 2019, the Hall of Democracy will house new departments for education, research and outreach, including the Museum’s Institute for the Study of War and Democracy—a public-history institute dedicated to research that will assure the historical integrity of exhibits, programs and publications.

         The Institute will work closely with the WWII Media and Education Center (also to be housed in the Hall of Democracy), which is designed to disseminate knowledge on World War II through online access to Museum programs and products, and through distance learning and digital programs. Gemma Birnbaum, formerly the Museum’s assistant director of Education for Curriculum, has been named the first director of the WWII Media and Education Center.

         Together, the Institute and Media Center will be staffed by leading historians and media professionals to advance teaching about the American experience in World War II to students, teachers and wider audiences around the globe—and to take the Museum to new frontiers beyond the physical campus in New Orleans.

         “The Hall of Democracy represents a new chapter, specifically the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, which will become a new content arm of the Museum,” National WWII Museum’s Watson said. “As a national museum, I think it’s critically important that access—outreach, how we bring World War II to communities across the country—is a core responsibility and part of our mission, and the Hall of Democracy is really going to help make that happen.”

         Crean is an Army senior leader with nearly three decades of experience. He has an extensive record of service in logistics and administration, repeatedly deploying to combat zones and at times leading organizations with more than 1,000 soldiers or employees.

         Through his role as director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center since 2015, Col. Crean was responsible for an archive with more than 12 million documents, a library with nearly 500,000 volumes and approximately 75,000 artifacts. In a similar assignment from 2010-11, he held acting director and deputy director positions at the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH) at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. The CMH serves as the Army’s lead historical agency, setting policy regarding U.S. Army history, writing its official history, maintaining the battle honors of all Army units, and providing other historical services to Army leaders.

         Crean graduated from Indiana University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Upon graduation he received a commission in the Quartermaster Corps. He holds a Master of Science degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology and a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College, where he was also a graduate of the Advanced Strategic Arts Program.

         Loicano, PhD, was previously the chief historian for the Office of the Supreme Commander, leading NATO historical programming with responsibility for oral history, operational history and other heritage programs. In addition to serving on the Strategic Planning Core Group of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers (SHAPE), he supervised all NATO historical personnel and directed archiving programs for SHAPE and its subordinate commands. Loicano has played a lead role in planning and executing commemoration events, including a recent celebration of SHAPE’s 50th anniversary, and he coordinates media engagements and other public history outreach.

         He has deep experience as an archivist and historian working with the military. His previous professional roles include serving as associate professor of Strategy at the Air War College in Alabama (2012-14) and as historian and political military analyst for the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (2010-12). He also has taught history and directed the Vietnam Studies Program at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). During his USM tenure, Loicano led a joint U.S. veteran/ student study program in Vietnam, including battlefield studies.

         A native of the New Orleans area, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history at Louisiana State University in 1999. He also earned a Master of Arts in history at the University of Southern Mississippi, then a Master of Arts and PhD in history at Cornell University. In 2016, he participated in the NATO Executive Management Development Program.

         The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn, reps said. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front, reps said.

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