Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the National WWI Museum and Memorial is dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.

The primary focus of the museum and memorial is to honor the memory and sacrifices of all those who served their country and defended liberty during World War I. Also, the National WWI Museum and Memorial puts into context the consequences of World War I and how they impact today’s world.

Horizon Theater
Credit: National WWI Museum and Memorial

“The ability to see the actual items that were held and touched and made by people of that timeframe is transformative,” said Karis Erwin, director of marketing, communications and guest services. “It allows students to viscerally understand that this was real life. Being here in person at the museum and memorial encourages understand and historical empathy that can’t be replicated in books or by watching movies.”

Although the museum and memorial is open, due to COVID-19, it is not currently offering group tours in-person. Electronic field trips have been expanded for those who can’t visit in person. Ideal for groups of 15–100 participants, these Zoom meetings allow museum and memorial educators to provide a live 45-minute digital lesson with time built-in for a student Q&A session. Educators will present on specific WWI topics that emphasizes objects, photographs and documents from the museum and memorial’s collection. Topics change weekly and space is limited.

A collection of virtual activities can also be found online: https://www.theworldwar.org/learn/activities

When physical group tours of the National WWI Museum and Memorial resume, visitors will be able to view a 12-minute video in the William T. Kemper Introduction Theater.

The Immersion Galleries are dramatic installations of key large-scale objects from the collection, in settings that allude to the physical and emotional landscapes of the war. They portray key situations drawn from the chronology and give visitors a deeper understanding of the war’s dynamics by focusing on themes that cut across the entire narrative.

At two interactive study stations in the inner circle visitors can sit down and explore World War I in more detail. The variety of programming addresses different learning styles. Simulations, databases and decision-making scenarios pose the question: “What would you do?”

Trench exhibit
Credit: National WWI Museum and Memorial

Along the central path, large glass cases showcase the breadth and variety of the museum collection. Comparisons are made from a variety of nations, underscoring the war’s global nature.

“Depending upon the age, students are drawn to different things in the gallery,” Erwin said. “For example, the French propaganda toilet paper is always a favorite as well as the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. But it could also be the trench, the torpedo, the plane or any of the larger artifacts. However, a lot of times people are also drawn to the uniforms that help bring the experience of WWI to life.”