Its own website states The National World War I Museum and Memorial to be the The World’s Most Comprehensive WWI Collection. Thus, I was really curious when I had my very first visit to Kansas City in summer 2022. Here is my review of the museum, which is – as you can see in the pictures – located majorly below ground level in a memorial park in the central/Missouri part of the city.
National World War I Museum – Location & Admission
National World War I Museum is located at the Liberty Memorial Mall, right South of Union Station. However, the museum is on a hill. There is parking right at the museum. At the time of writing, the free to use Kansas City Streetcar terminated at Union Station, the extension was already under construction and could make the visit much more convenient. Another attraction in close proximity is the Money Museum driven by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The museum is opening Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 to 17:00 hrs. The adult admission is 18 USD, tax and fees included. I recommend to buy the ticket online beforehand. It typically makes sense to by a combo ticket. There are combined ticket with temporary exhibitions as well as being able to visit the Liberty Memorial Tower. I did the museum and the tower on the same trip. The combined ticket price has been 21 USD.
National World War I Museum – The Visit
You enter the museum over the so-called Paul Sunderland Bridge. The class bridge crosses a field of poppies, which are representing the nine million fallen soldiers during the war. After that, you head right into the main part of the museum. The structure is really well done. The central area gives a chronological overview, which is very detailed and might be especially interesting for locals, who are not that much into European history.
The outer area of the almost circular feeling space thereby features additional exhibitions. They are more or less the real heart of the museum and feature a lot of different items. There are a lot of weapons, uniform and other kinds of military equipment, but also life-size trenches and similar dioramas, which illustrate the war in a very transparent way. The museum also displays a large collection of photographs, which lead to a very good impression on the cause and result of the war. There are also a couple of monitors. From a European perspective, it feels a bit of disconcerting how much effort and detail the museum buts on military strategy and how the military operations worked out between 1914 and 1918.
Very Detailed Explanation
I wouldn’t even state that the museum feels massively large. Nonetheless, it is overwhelming with a high level of detail and the vast number of aspects which are covered. I am very critical in that point, but sometimes, the war even feels to be a bit of glorified just due to this precision which is always leading to heroic and fascinating stories told about the military mass-killing and suffering of people on both sides. On the other hand, I liked a rather balanced view on the different parties involved.
The timeline covered by the museum is not abruptly ending at the end of WWI on 11th November 1918. The museum has a very precise and great way to also illustrate what has happened as a cause of it. For example, there is a view on the Treaty of Versaille and one of the last items you see in the main exhibition is a quote by Adolf Hitler in 1922.
National World War I Museum – Services
Of course, the National World War I Museum is driving a museum store. It again shows a different way of looking at war on the different sides of the Atlantic Oceans – you would likely not be able to buy t-shirts with the frontline of certain battles printed on it over here. Nonetheless, the shop was interesting to visit. The museum also features a cafe, which felt to be very popular among the locals.
National World War I Museum – My View
Yelp named the museum One of the Top 5 museums of the country. I would not go that far regarding the National World War I Museum, but it is definitely a good one. Great scenery, nice staff and a lot of detail. Some parts do feel a bit too “fascinating” about war to me, though. Nonetheless, this history museum should be on your KC bucket list. Top Pick!
Historic Museums in the USA
Here are all my postings related to Historic Museums and the USA:
Nazi Germany Memorials
Here are all places memorizing about the cruelties during the German Nazi leadership: