The National World War I Museum & Memorial Commemorates Centennial

The National World War I Museum and Memorial has been called a national treasure by Pulitzer Prize winning biographer, A. Scott Berg, and deemed one of the nation’s Top 25 Museums, by TripAdvisor. This is the only museum in Kansas or Missouri named to the list.

Opened in December 2006, the Museum encompasses a 30,000-square-foot core exhibit space and owns the world’s most comprehensive collection of WWI artifacts. As the only national museum dedicated to the Great War, it holds a wide array of constantly changing special exhibitions, making repeat attendance worthwhile.

“Part of the reason I believe we’re ranked among the top 25 museums in the country is that people of all ages enjoy an incredibly diverse experience when they visit the National World War I Museum and Memorial,” says President and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor. “We constantly seek to tell personal stories from World War I and how the most influential event of the 20th century affects people to this very day.”  

Commemorating the WWI Centennial

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Commemorating the WWI Centennial, the Museum offers Sand to Snow: Global War 1915, through April 10, 2016. This exhibition features objects and documents from The Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, India, Germany, Poland, the United States and more than a dozen other countries. Artifacts include a Turkish infantry rank insignia shoulder board for a Major; an Australian/New Zealand cribbage board and writing utensil; and an Imperial German M1915 gas mask.

Open through Dec. 6, A Centenary of Australian War Art is the largest collection of war-era Australian artworks ever seen outside of that country. Honoring the 100th anniversary of the Allied landing at Gallipoli, the exhibit showcases pieces by dozens of artists including George Lambert and Arthur Streeton. The exhibition captures some of the vast geographical area and various theaters of conflict and peacekeeping that Australia has covered and participated in, from the Middle east and Europe, to Vietnam, Korea and Singapore.

Drawn to War: The Political Cartoons of Louis Raemaekers, offers pencil sketched political cartoons, by this renowned Dutch artist. His images addressed war’s brutality and destructive forces and also included multiple caricatures of national leaders during that time period. A skeleton drinks blood from a chalice; an infantryman punches Crown Prince Wilhelm in the face; and a soldier writes to his mother from a trench.

Museum’s Operation Series

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Many public museum programs ‘connect the dots’ between World War I and how the world’s first global conflict still affects the world. During 2015 the Museum’s Operation series has included:

Operation: Indulgence. Whiskey and chocolate were two indulgences granted to WWI soldiers. In February 2015, acclaimed local chocolatiers, Rene Bollier (André's Confiserie Suisse), Christopher Elbow (Christopher Elbow Artisan Chocolates), and local whiskey expert Ryan Maybee (J. Rieger & Co. Whiskey/Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange), offered tastings and a panel discussion regarding the role of luxury goods during the War. Guests also enjoyed light appetizers and a cash bar.

Operation: War Fare. Local chefs who competed in this World War I-themed Iron Chef-style cooking competition, during April, came from AffäreGrünauerRenee Kelly's Harvest and Webster House. Chef Ted Habiger, Room 39, emceed this unusual event which also featured a cash cocktail bar and World War I-themed food samples.

Operation: Ink. Food, fun, spirits and information about the history and evolution of tattoos were all part of this August event, with Tattoo Historian, Anna Friedman; Whispering Danny of Whispering Danny Exile Tattoos; Ryan Maybee of The Rieger Hotel, who provided cocktails; and food samples from award-winning The Local Pig. Taking place on October 22, Operation: Hard Core will explore the history of cider with Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, Doug Frost.'

Additional programs

Living history

Additional programs include the family friendly series Day in the Life, in which living history volunteers share stories of the Great War era; and the In the Know series – which tackles topics such as the development and use of chemical warfare, particularly during WWI.

Historians and authors from across the world also speak about diverse topics associated with WWI. On Saturdays in most months during the year Hands-on History events provide opportunities to handle artifacts from the Great War, in the main gallery too.

“Whether it’s a youth-oriented program where children handle artifacts, an exhibition on Australian war art, a program detailing the evolution of tattoos following World War I or sharing the inspirational story of how Kansas Citians built the Liberty Memorial nearly 100 years ago – all are incredibly compelling,”  Dr. Naylor says. 

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