Our second full day in Kansas City brought us to a museum we had visited once before, The National WWI Museum and Memorial. This museum is a stunning site to see even if you just go to the park for some photos of the Memorial itself. Its Liberty Tower reaches high to the sky! The tower is usually open for tours to the top, but due to pandemic restrictions that was a no go this time around.
We bought our tickets in advance to avoid time in any lines. They had the outer doors labeled so that if you already had tickets, you would go in one door, whereas those who didn’t would enter a different door. You do not need your tickets immediately as you are directed to the right to a small auditorium space where you are encouraged to watch an introductory film. This film details how Europe and its various empires were growing and changing leading up to the “shot heard round the world.” They had benches spaced within proper social distancing guidelines so that each party could have their necessary space as we watched.
Following this you cross over a field of poppies to access the main galleries. Most people don’t always think to look down at the poppies, so be sure you do when you visit!
From there you are guided to your right to access the first gallery. This gallery focuses on the start of the war to right before America got involved. You learn about the two trios of power that worked to fight against each other and how weapons and warfare had changed since many of these countries and empires had previously fought. One volunteer was especially helpful in giving us a detailed account of how their uniforms changed over time: from the bright and colorful, to the dark, hidden colors to keep you safe in trench warfare.
This particular gallery has a unique set up where you can view “into” a trench in various locations to see what soldiers would have experienced. They have a running soundtrack of yells and guns and bombs going off to make it especially realistic.
Towards the end of this gallery they also had a section that featured both the improvements in flight and submarine/naval advancements that led to a very different type of war. This included several diagrams of just how many battles and forces were found in the air and on the sea, and also showcased a few artifacts related to those submarines.
From there you proceed forward to an overlook of a trench with several benches to sit on. This is where you will watch a second film; one that details how America came to be involved in the war. This film is a bit longer but it not to be missed as it really helps to introduce the progression of the war and incorporates the trench overlook into it.
From there you proceed into the second and final gallery. This one of course focuses more heavily on American involvement both at home and on the ground across the sea. It also has a special feature of a tank, how it would look to be “inside” the tank, and what a crater that was created by a tank would look like. This gallery of course leads up to the end of the war and the peace agreement that came with it.
The museum also features a small gift shop and has a café available as well. Currently the café only offered to-go options due to current pandemic restrictions, but when we had previously visited they had a nice area to sit and enjoy your meal.
Admission is $18 per adult. Children and senior prices are a bit lower, but the admission price is well worth it for all the information they have in these galleries. The volunteer staff is also always willing to share their insights further into exhibits which really enhances your time there as well.
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