Liberty Memorial, Kansas City
Plans are afoot and fundraising well-underway for a major expansion of the exhibit facilities at the Liberty Memorial. Already, the murals inside "Memory Hall" have been carefully restored.
The towers of the Crown Center complex are visable on the left side of the photo.
The Liberty Memorial was built in the early 1920s as a monument to American soldiers who fought in World War I. It was also intended to be a symbol of a "new era" of international peace and co-operation that the First World War was supposed to have inaugurated. Funds for the memorial were raised entirely by private individuals in the Kansas City region, construction was started within a few months of the end of the war, and the Memorial was dedicated in early 1921. The dedication ceremony was attended by American Commander in Chief General Pershing (a native Missourian), French Marshall Foch, and British First Sea Lord Earl Beatty, among others.
The Liberty Memorial was designed by New York architect H. Van Buren Magonigle in a severe and austere monumental style. (It's not exactly Classical; perhaps neo-Egyptian?) I have to admit that I am fond of its severity and austerity, which I think are entirely appropriate for its subject matter.
Not too many people in the US know about World War I anymore, however, and the difficult thing for the Liberty Memorial's preservers has been getting enough people to care about it in order to ensure that there are enough funds for it to be maintained.
The Liberty Memorial is the country's only memorial dedicated to the veterans of World War I.
It has an extensive museum of artifacts from The Great War. The Tower is open to the public. It provides you with a great view of Kansas City. The grounds of the memorial are equally impressive. Two statues, "The Sphinxes," guard the entrance. There's also a stone frieze (one of the largest in the world) that depicts the progression from war to peace.
Admission to both the museum and the tower is only $5.
When I first arrived in Kansas City, we saw this tower and it reminded me of the Coit Tower in San Francisco. But upon closer examination, this Tower has a very different look --- with Egyptian motifs. It was being renovated most of the time while I lived in KCMO, but later on I did see the finished tower and museum...
The tower memorial is also known as the National Symbol for World War I, housing a WWI museum designated on September 21, 2006 by the Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne as a National Historic Landmark. Architecturally, the memorial shows an Egyptian inspiration with two sphinxes. The park around it is also a great place to have a spectacular view of the city.
Not to be missed when in Kansas City...and then head off to the nearby Union Station (old train station renovated with good restaurants and stores) for good food.
100 W 26th St
Kansas City, MO 64108
Add Photos First to Review Billy A.
This is one a few WWI memorials and it may be fading unless someone come up with money soon. They have a museum that took 5 years to prepare of construct. Inside is some old memorabilia and a tank, as well as a reenactment of what a trench looked like. They have been collecting artifacts since right after WWI. There is a main part and entry area featuring some of the history. Another adjacent building houses other war items and maps of the time.
Update March 2009-We came here again, and it is a great museum to visit. I imagine it takes a normal tour around 3 hours just to see it all and go up the 217 feet tower. A much improved museum and sites makes you feel proud to be an American and be in KC for one of a few memorials to WWI. Price is $8 for the museum and $12 for combined trip includes the tower. Seniors is lower at $10. There are 3 separate parts of the museum; one in the main building, and two others at the top of the walkway. The inside has artillery pieces, a WWI tank and many/many artifact of the period and the war. It is a nice display of the evolution and step by step to the end to end all wars. Ha
There are stone and sculpted structures on the grounds that are simply fabulous. These monuments were part of the overall memorial that was completed in 1926, only 5 years after the war. The cost then was $2.5 million and was raised in 2 weeksThe tower along with exhibit halls are on the top level deck, and they are all smooth faced limestone, being very elegant appearance art deco. The flame at the top of the tower was a long time memory of people to remember the war. It flamed out when the memorial was closed back in around 1970's. Then when renovation ws completed, the gas flame was started again, but due to danger potential and costs, ti became a lighted color with plastic wrapping to look somewhat authentic.
General Black-Jack Pershing himself was in attendance when this monument was dedicated in the 1920s. I have heard that it is the only memorial in the country dedicated to the veterans of World War I. There is a museum, an elevator ride to the top of the monument, and wonderful views of Kansas City's Union Station and the skyline.
The features in this museum are very super and need close attention to all the artifacts that are displayed. The bigger items are the French tank and some artillery pieces. Many smaller period items are neat to view. The circular pattern of the main museum is well laid out. Besides this museum, there are two exhibit hall that feature some real interesting murals, maps and memorabilia. The nearly 10,000 poppies that are planted at the museum entrance under a clear plastic walkway, represents 9,000 dead soldiers for each poppy.
These two buildings from 1926 seemed relatively unchanged since completion back then. They take you back in time, and the reverence of those that sacrificed themselves, and those that led to victory. Not only the US Gen Pershing were famous, but all of Europe was engulfed in the war a lot more than us. The losses were close to 20 million for soldiers and same of civilians. These maps and murals are memories that make the viewer sad but remembering.
Following the emotions at the end of World War I, locals raised funds to create this large memorial to those who had died in the defense of liberty. The site was dedicated in 1921 in front of a gathering of Allied commanders – Marshal Foch, Admiral Beatty, General Diaz, Lt. General Jacques (Belgium) and General John Pershing – and nearly 200,000 people, as well as Vice President Calvin Coolidge. Five years later, the Memorial would open with a dedicatory speech by the now-President Calvin Coolidge.
The main feature is the 217 foot high Memorial Tower with figures representing Courage, Honor, Patriotism and Sacrifice carved near the top. Twin stone Sphinxes – Memory and Future – flank the tower with their wings covering their faces in mourning for the dead of past and future wars. Two museum halls stand on either side of the Tower. The eastern Memory Hall contains the names of the many Kansas Citians who died during World War I as well as paintings and exhibits describing the American participation during the War. The western building contains more exhibits along with the flags of the different Allied Nations. To reach the top of the Tower you pay a $2 supplement to your entrance to the National World War I Museum, located beneath the Memorial. From the top, you have a panoramic view out over the Kansas City metropolitan area and a chance to witness the winds of the Great Plains, firsthand. At night, steam emanates from the top of the Tower and lit by orange lights, gives the impression of a burning pyre.
With funds from Kansas City, Missouri and the Federal government, the Liberty Museum underwent a large restoration process and the National World War I Museum was built underneath the Liberty Memorial. You enter the museum walking across a glass bridge suspended over 9,000 poppies – one poppy for every 1,000 of World War I’s combatant deaths. Then, a brief movie sets the stage for the events that led up to the outbreak of World War I. Next, are a couple of large open rooms that take you through the years of the war in chronological fashion. Another large movie screen suspended above a mock-up of a battlefield somewhere along the trenches shows the events which led the U.S. to entering into World War I. The last rooms detail American involvement into the war – complete with a Renault FT-7 tank – and the development of the Liberty Memorial after the war. The museum is an excellent point in which to begin or continue one’s study of what was, to that point, one of the largest calamities mankind has undertaken.
One museum can be pretty much like another. This is a war memorial that has a museum attached. That what sets it apart and makes it’s impact more meaningful. When taken as a whole it is extremely impressive.
The experience begins with a drive down a tree lined avenue placed on a rise overlooking downtown. Many of the trees were planted in memory of soldiers that never returned from France or Belgum.
The monument is impressive, beautiful and a bit humbling. The design competition winner Harold Magonigle did a splendid job. This monument constructed just a few years after the war conveys the loss as well as the hope for a better future. In many places there are references to THE Great War. It makes what came just a few years later all the more tragic.
As the monument is sited it takes full advantage of the topography. As you approach from the south you feel as if you are approaching an edge with all the anticipation that that inspires. Approached from the north you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the loss it represents. Do not just drive up and stand around, walk out to the north side and get the full effect.
The National World War 1 Museum is located underneath the monument. The entrance is foreboding and the glass floor you cross to enter is a trip. It is suspended over a diorama of the forgotten battle field.
The collection is vast and is well displayed. How to represent such a huge event is a daunting task. I feel the staff has done a fine job of weaving the personal with the enormity of the conflict. I was left wondering how could we do this on an even grander scale 20 years later.
The bookstore has nice collection of books and media. Much of it is hard to find elsewhere, as interest in this war is overshadowed by current history.
Last but not least if you have a clear day take the elevator ride to the top of the tower it is one of the best views of the city you can get. Well worth the fare.
The Museum is fully accessable and there is a nice picnic area on the south lawn.
Just about mid way along the west street that takes you out of the parking area there is a little area worth seeing. It is a collection of the surviving markers for trees dedicated to war dead. They were removed when trees died and then placed here later. It is a sobering little spot. A bit forlorn comment on how memory of even great sacrifice fades.
Many visitors to the National World War I Museum are suprised at the Smithsonian quality museum located below the original Exhibit Hall, Memory Hall and the Liberty Memorial tower. Cross the glass bridge above a re-creation of Flanders Field, Belguim to travel back in time to The Great War. Follow the events of the war from it's start in 1914 to the peace in 1919. Ask yourself the question, did World War I end in 1945 or did World War II start in 1914.
Currently on display are uniforms from Germany, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and France that have not been previously displayed. The museum gives the visitor a sense of why the war happened and the fact that there were no real winners with nine million combatants killed. My favorite displays are a Renault tank, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and for a short time, Gary Cooper's best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Sgt. York. Visit the Over There Cafe when you need a break or sit in one of the Reflection booths and listen to music, poetry or speeches from the era.
This is definitely a must see. Give yourself about 2.5 hours to see it all or more if you read everything.
We had allowed perhaps as much as two hours for this stop; 5 1/2 hours later we tore ourselves away with reluctance. It has been noted that this is a Smithsonian-quality museum. I would add that it has many interactive features, such as light tables where you can create a WWI poster and email it to yourself or others. On the practical side, it has a nice lunchroom where you can have sandwiches etc. without leaving the grounds. very handy, since the museum is not openuntil ten a.m. most days. On October 5th, 2012, a very nice Chicken Salad sandwich cost $8 and a fountain drink was $2. It may be a couple of bucks more than usual, but its was better than leaving the museum, driving around to find a place to eat, and then returning to finish your visit.