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.
I found this musuem very well done, with many interesting artifacts and professional displays. The first half of the musuem gives a well-balanced overview of the beginning of the war, and the only critique I have is in the second half of the musuem. Although the United States was only involved in the last year of the war, half of the musuem is dedicated to the American contribution. I can understand why the musuem is like this since it is catering towards Americans, but I still feel that it kind of blew things out of proportion. I still recommend this musuem, however, as it's sure to please any musuem or history buff. Also be sure to check out the Liberty Memorial tower which provides nice views of the city.
For those of you with dogs, there is a big area fenced in so you can bring your little fluffy friend to play with all the other dogs. There are some picnic tables for the humans to sit and watch all the different types of dogs that come and play.
Liberty Memorial honors the men and women who have served in WWI. There is a museum and gift shop on location. The Liberty Memorial Museum, which houses one the most significant World War I collections in North America, is the only museum in the United States dedicated to those who served in World War I.