The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is south of downtown Kansas City, MO,
100 W. 26th St., 816.784.1918, www.theworldwar.org.
The complex includes the Liberty Memorial (dedicated to the veterans of World War I in 1926), the National World War I Museum (constructed under the memorial and opened December 2, 2006), a Museum Store, the Over There Café, a Research Center, the Great Frieze, Sphinxes, Portriat Walls, a Walk of Honor (with engraved bricks honoring individuals who served in the military and individuals or grops dedicated to liberty), R.A. Long Education Center, J.C. Nichols Auditorium, and the Liberty Tower itself.
Gallery hours are Tuesday thru Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a fee for admission. Grounds are accessible to the public from dawn to dusk.
Visitors enter the museum exhibit walking over a field of poppies displayed under a glass flooring. Poppies have been the symbol of those who have served and died at war since WWI, where poppies flurished in the battlefields of France, the site of trench warfare. Poppies thrived on the nitrites of explosives and the decomposition of dead bodies. War deaths totaled 9,000,000. Each of the 9000 museum poppies represents 1000 souls who lost their lives during WWI.
The museum has a footprint of a circle centered around a hub, which is the foundation of the memorial tower above.
A 12-minute introductory film offers insights into world events leading to war in Europe. Visitors then visit the east side of the museum, dedicated to representing the war prior to American envolvement, 1914-1917. State of the art displays include artifacts, film projections, audio remembrances, and peek-holes into life in the trenches as used by both Allied and German forces during years of battle.
The war in the air and in sea battles are also etched for visitors.
The Horizon Theater shows a 15-minute program about how Americans supported the Allies, and eventually entered the war themselves. The era from 1917-1919 is covered in the western side of the gallery.
Yankee artificates include uniforms, aircraft, transport vehicle, helmets, badges and banners, moving images, and many still photographs.
Of special interest is a rare French
Renault FT17 World War I tank.
The museum continues a search for specific items for its collection.
Interactive Tables allow visitors to experience WWI history through modern technology, including interactive visuals controls with light pens. Audio alcoves include the historic voices, music, poetry and prose of the era.
Above ground two Halls contain exhibits. Memory Hall includes war maps, artillary artifacts, and painted murals from post-war France, given to the city of Kansas City after decades on display abroad.
Between the halls is Memorial Tower. Those with tickets can climb stairs to the top for a spectacular overview of Kansas City. The city scape view from the terrace is impressive, with no fee to view —and little climbing reguired.
A campaign, recently completed, intends to keep the flame atop the tower lighted well into our future.