World War I, originally known as the Great War, was an extremely bloody struggle that led to momentous consequences. It introduced modern weaponry, new battlefield tactics, and shook up power on the global stage. For America, in particular, it was a kickstart to the country’s continuous involvement in international affairs.
The museum complex you can visit today opened in 2006, but the history of this place goes back a lot further. Shortly after WWI ended in 1918, a small group of Kansas City citizens came together to raise money for a memorial for the American and Allied soldiers that fought in the war. Eighty-three thousand people donated over $2.5 million in less than two weeks to construct the Liberty Memorial museum, and it brought giant crowds and global leaders to commemorate its completion. Over the decades, the memorial aged and encountered structural problems, but local and international support led to the renovation that created the award-winning museum that stands here today!
You can spend all day at this museum trekking through the Main Gallery and limited-run exhibitions. In the gallery, which includes stories from all nations involved in the conflict, visitors journey through the war from 1914 to 1919. Here you can see and feel what it was like in the trenches, discover how civilians and societies mobilized the war efforts, and look at one of the world's most extensive collection of WWI artifacts from weapons to uniforms to interactive displays. Together they create a picture of what it was like in the war that led to over 9 million combat deaths.
In addition, limited-run exhibitions have focused on topics like the impact of the war, its influence on art and culture, the lives of returned veterans, lands destroyed by artillery, and other global conflicts. Exploring these topics is an important way to keep the memory of this war alive and to see how many cultures and generations are affected by wars on this scale.
For visiting families with kids, the museum has created a free Family Guide that takes children on a scavenger hunt through the world-class collections. inside the Main Gallery.
How much do you know about WWI? The video below gives a fascinating capsule history of the war and a preview of some of the museum's artifacts.
Regular hours for the museum are from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am-5pm. During the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), the museum is open daily. Don’t miss out on an important experience at the National World War One Museum and Memorial.
Cover Image by Patrick Emerson is licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0).