National WWI Museum and Memorial

If you visit Kansas City, there is a must visit site: National WWI Museum and Memorial. Started in 1920 with the name of Liberty Memorial Museum, this WWI museum is one of the largest Great War collections in the world and one of the top 5 museums in the country-more than 330,000 items strong.

Two Sphinxes “Memory” and “Future” stand guard at the entrance to the Liberty Memorial.

At the entry of the museum, below the Paul Sunderland Bridge is a field of 9000 poppies , each symboling the death of 1000 combatants from WWI (9 million total). Lt. Col. John McCrae, who served as a surgeon at field hospital at Belgium, wrote the famous poem in WWI “In Flanders Fields”.

The field of 9000 poppies , each symboling the death of 1000 combatants from WWI (9 million total).
The famous poem in WWI “In Flanders Fields” written by Lt. Col. John McCrae served as a surgeon at field hospital at Belgium.

There are two short documentary movies: one introduces the background and causing reasons of WWI, another explains how and why the United States became involved. These movies are very informative and novel.

This deck gun was seized by the German troop from a British merchant ship.

I was very interested in the history of how USA declared the War in WWI. Besides the documentary movie, the museum also has a wall posters about it. The posters are simple,clear and informative. I have learned the important historical events such as “Sink on sight”: (Germany’s sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,200 passengers, including 128 Americans); The Zimmerman telegram” (A secret message, which was intercepted by British intelligence, from German foreign minister Zimmermann to propose to ally with Mexico against the United States).

There are many famous art work during WWI exhibited in the museum.

This iconic poster of Uncle Sam is actually a self-portrait of the artist, James Montgomery Flagg.
General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) commanded the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe during WWI.
The Pantheon de la Guerre was a monumental work of war art by French artists Pierre Carrier-Belleuse and August Gorguet.

Women’s massive participation in the WWI also led to a wave of women right. “French Fashion, Women, and the First World War”exhibits this period of history.

French woman fashion during WWI period.
The Woman of France, YMCA United War Work Campaign poster

10 thoughts on “National WWI Museum and Memorial

  1. I hope residents of Kansas City will forgive me when I say that Kansas City is a surprising place to find such an impressive museum on WW1 history! 🙂 Good to see the women’s angle being covered, as this is often overlooked in museum focussing on warfare.

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    1. You are quite right😊 I was very impressed by the National WWI museum, and I didn’t realize we have this treasure in KC until recently. Since our traveling has been limited during pandemic, we pay more attention to our surroundings. There is another great museum in Missouri: National Churchill Museum, where Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Sinews of Peace”. It was closed last year during the lockdown period and right now it is closed for improvement. I just can’t wait to visit it!!! In the National WWI museum, I like the women section a lot, I easily understand art work and women’s clothing than the details of warfare😉

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      1. Interesting to see how highly Winston Churchill is regarded in the US. Strange, perhaps, that there is a museum dedicated to his memory in the US but not (as far as I know) here in the UK.

        Churchill’s most famous speech in the UK is probably the one about resisting the expected German invasion, which he delivered in the House of Commons on 4 June 1940. The best known part of it is this: “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” It’s regarded as possibly his finest ever speech, and is stirring stuff (to Brits, anyway) even now.

        The “Sinews of Peace” speech is less well known here, perhaps because its subject is international rather than inward looking. For interest, this link will take you to a recently published assessment of the speech on GOV.UK, our government’s official website:

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      2. Thank you so much🙏 Yes, Winston Churchill was a great leader especially in the WWII. His speech was very inspiring. We went to the outside of National Churchill Museum last year and saw the sculpture Breakthrough ( eight sections from Berlin Wall) by Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill. The link you gave me is truly helpful. Now I understand the whole picture. I think I will enjoy the tour of the Museum very much!

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      3. I’d not heard of Edwina Sandys, but her surname is familiar. It turns out her father was Duncan Sandys, a prominent Conservative Party politician in the 1950s / 1960s.
        Breakthrough looks impressive! I hope you enjoy your visit to the Museum when the opportunity arises.

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      4. Breakthrough sculpture, portraying freedom breaking through, is very impressive and beautiful. I read Winston Churchill’s “we shall fight… we shall never surrender” speech again. It is still very inspiring today, after we have lost 2.7 millions of lives to COVID worldwide. Thanks again for all the resources you provided, much appreciated!

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    1. How lucky that you have a stamp from WWI😊 I have learned a lot from this museum! It is a great treasure. I like to go to the National WWII museum someday too. And your blogs have brought us many valuable WWII history memories!

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