National World War I Museum and Memorial

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National World War I Museum and Memorial
National WWI Museum and Memorial
Location Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Nearest parking On site (no charge)
National WWI Museum and Memorial
National World War I Museum and Memorial aerial.jpg
Aerial photo of the National WWI Museum and Memorial with the Kansas City skyline.
Location Kansas City, Missouri
Coordinates 39°04′49″N 94°35′10″W / 39.08028°N 94.58611°W / 39.08028; -94.58611Coordinates: 39°04′49″N 94°35′10″W / 39.08028°N 94.58611°W / 39.08028; -94.58611
Built 1926
Architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle, Westlake Construction Company
Architectural style Beaux Arts Classicism, Egyptian Revival
NRHP Reference # 00001148
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 20, 2006[1]
Designated NHL September 20, 2006[2]

The National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States is located in Kansas City, Missouri. Opened to the public as the Liberty Memorial Museum in 1926, it was designated in 2004 by the United States Congress as America's official museum dedicated to World War I. The museum re-opened to the public in December 2006 with an expanded, award-winning facility to exhibit an artifact collection that began in 1920.[3][4] The National World War I Museum tells the story of the Great War and related global events from their origins before 1914 through the 1918 Armistice and 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Visitors enter the 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) facility across a glass bridge above a field of 9,000 red poppies, each one representing 1,000 combatant deaths.[5]


Soon after World War I ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association (LMA) to create a memorial to those who had served in the war. In 1919, the LMA and citizens of Kansas City raised $2 million in less than two weeks, driven by what museum curator Doran Cart has described as "complete, unbridled patriotism".[6] In 1921, 200,000 people gathered for the site dedication of Liberty Memorial.[6] Construction on the classical Egyptian Revival-style monument was completed in 1926 and the Liberty Memorial was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge on November 11, 1926 with the statement that the memorial “has not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory which are embodied in peace and liberty…. Today I return in order that I may place the official sanction of the national government upon one of the most elaborate and impressive memorials that adorn our country. The magnitude of this memorial, and the broad base of popular support on which it rests, can scarcely fail to excite national wonder and admiration.”[7][6]

In the years following its unveiling, the Liberty Memorial proved a dynamic addition[clarification needed] to Kansas City’s cultural offerings. Over time, however, the physical structure of the Liberty Memorial deteriorated due to problems with drainage and the original construction, and it was closed in 1994 due to safety concerns.[6] Local shopping malls voluntarily helped to put part of the museum collection on display while the Memorial was unavailable.[6] The poor condition of the building became an embarrassment for the city,[6] Kansas City citizens voiced their support[clarification needed] for the Liberty Memorial and, in 1998, they passed a limited-run sales tax to support the restoration. In addition to revitalizing the Memorial, plans took shape to expand the site by building a museum to better showcase the WWI-related objects and documents the LMA had been collecting since 1920.

Local, national and international support provided more than $102 million for restoration and expansion. In 2004, the museum was designated by Congress as the nation's official World War I museum, and construction started on a new 80,000 square foot, state-of-the-art museum and the Edward Jones Research Center underneath the Liberty Memorial. The Liberty Memorial was designated a National Historic Landmark on Sept. 20, 2006,[8] recognizing the monument as a nationally significant historic property. On December 19, 2014, President Barack Obama signed legislation recognizing the Liberty Memorial as a national memorial, which effectively redesignated the Museum as the National World War I Museum and Memorial.[9]


The declared mission of the museum and memorial is to inspire "thought, dialogue, and learning to make the experiences of the World War I era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations."[10]


Liberty Memorial, beneath which the museum and research center are located

The exterior buildings are designed in the classical Egyptian Revival style of architecture with a limestone exterior. The foundation was constructed using sawed granite, and the exterior ground level walls are made of Bedford stone. The main doors at the bottom of a large set of stairs are made from ornamental bronze, and the walls of the first floor lobby are finished in Kasota stone, which was quarried in Kasota, Minnesota. The first floor corridor and the grand stairway are finished in travertine that was imported from Italy. The floors of the corridors and stairway treads are made from terrazzo and Kasota marble, and the balusters and railing are made from Italian travertine and Italian tavernelle clairemarble. The subterranean expansion of was designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and greatly expands the original facilities that are still housed on the main deck of the Liberty Memorial: Exhibition Hall and Memory Hall.[10] Memory Hall includes murals originally painted for the Panthéon de la Guerre in Paris, and adapted by LeRoy Daniel MacMorris in the 1950s.


The Main Gallery include an exhibition of period artifacts including a Renault FT tank, uniforms such as Paul von Hindenburg’s Model 1915 Field Jacket,[11] a 1917 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 1918 Ford Model T ambulance, General John J. Pershing's Headquarter flag, international Propaganda posters, an Allied National naval torped and replica trenches. Attached to the museum is the Edward Jones Research Center and a multi-purpose conference room and classroom.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Liberty Memorial". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved June 28, 2008. 
  3. ^ "National World War I Museum". Society for Experiential Graphic Design. 2013. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  4. ^ Bernard, Murrye (July 2010). "Names in the News". American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  5. ^ Rendina, Denise (2013-02-19). "National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial Overview" (PDF). National World War I Museum. Retrieved 2014-11-24. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Christian, Shirley (1998-03-31). "World War I Museum's New Drive on the Home Front". The New York Times (New York, NY). Retrieved 2014-11-24. 
  7. ^ Coolidge, Calvin (1926-11-11). Address at the Dedication of the Liberty Memorial at Kansas City, Missouri (Speech). Dedication of the Liberty Memorial. Kansas City, MO. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  8. ^ Millstein, Cydney (2006-01-13). "National Historic Landmark Nomination" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-11-24. 
  9. ^ Campbell, Matt (2014-12-22). "Liberty Memorial is Officially the National Memorial to World War I". The Kansas City Star (Mi-Ai Parrish). Retrieved 2014-12-30. 
  10. ^ a b Vietti, Mike (2014-03-05). "Mission Statement and Brief History" (PDF). National World War I Museum. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  11. ^ "In the Spotlight". The National World War I Museum. 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Marsh, Hannah. "Memory in World War I American museum exhibits" (MA thesis, Kansas State University, 2015, online)

External links[edit]