It was called the War to End All Wars; unfortunately, it was only the first of two, and hopefully not more, World Wars. It was also known as the “Great War” and you can learn much more about it by visiting Kansas City and the National World War I Museum and Memorial that has been set up there to remember those who fought and died in this conflict. This is the top tourist attraction in Kansas City and is listed as the fifth most popular museum in the entire country by Yelp. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM and is open on Mondays during the same time span during the summer months. The most prominent feature of the museum is the Liberty Memorial Tower, whose last ride up commences at 4:15 PM.
The history of this national museum is described below:
Soon after World War I ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association (LMA) to create a lasting monument to the men and women who had served in the war. In 1919, the LMA and citizens of Kansas City raised more than $2.5 million in just 10 days. The equivalent of roughly $34 million today, this staggering accomplishment reflected the passion of public sentiment for the Great War that had dramatically changed the world.
In 1921, more than 100,000 people gathered to see the supreme Allied commanders dedicate the site of the Liberty Memorial. This was the first time in history these five leaders were together in one place.
Construction on the classical Egyptian Revival-style monument was completed in 1926 and the Liberty Memorial was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in front of more than 150,000 people.
Almost 100 years later, in 2004, Congress officially designated the local Kansas City Museum as the “official” United States World War I memorial. The facility has undergone many different renovations, the latest being a $5 million upgrade to the facility in 2011 and the upcoming addition of the Wylie Gallery expected in 2018 which is expected to cost $6.4 million. The latter will serve as an area to house temporary traveling exhibits from all over the planet.
VisitKC describes the importance of this important site:
A single crack of gunfire in 1914 sparked an event that forever changed our world. In all, 36 nations took up arms in the world’s first global conflict. During the “Great War” 65 million men and women served in the military. More than nine million died.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Through thousands of historical objects, photographs and eyewitness accounts, you will experience this monumental event from the individual’s perspective. This state-of-the-art museum takes you on an epic journey through a transformative time in our world’s history.
The museum was designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, one of the preeminent museum exhibit designers in the world today, whose credits include the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, Newseum and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
To learn more about the museum check out the following video: