July 25, 2016

National World War I Museum & Memorial

While Third Time's the Charm or KC in KC: Final Round sound like fine enough titles, I decided to break the following few posts down separately so there wouldn't be such an obnoxiously long post (as per my usual). Not to say this isn't about to be an obnoxiously long post, because it is - it's a bunch of pictures of a museum, after all... but you don't need that plus the brewery plus the art exhibit plus Chipotle Cultivate fest all at once...

After 11 Saturday morning we started to join a tour after buying our National World War I Museum tickets, but then learned the tour was an hour and forty-five minutes. My friend really wanted to check out the Kansas City Bier Co. tour at 1 pm (the only time offered) and I wanted to buy a memory card before our next site because, guys, for the first time ever I made the mistake of not bringing a memory card. Good news is: you can never have enough memory cards. So we checked out the Memorial tower and booked out around noon.

We came back for the Museum around the same time the next day and were a little disappointed to learn they didn't do tours on Sundays, but we enjoyed the self-guided tour all the same. I'll be the first to admit I never cared much for museums growing up - which is kind of surprising considering how much I've always loved "old stuff". It's only been in the last few years I've really begun to appreciate them... still, history was never my favorite subject in school. Again, with exposure to current events and an alteration to my thought process in college, I've learned to better appreciate history.

The view above the walkway over the field of poppies.
Learn about the people in various pictures while you wait on someone in the restroom or gift shop!
With all of the horrific events happening as of late, we were eerily reminded of the pattern while working our way through this war museum. Even if this doesn't interest you however, I think anyone can respect how well-done this museum is - which is what we kept hearing. They've made this so interactive, informative, entertaining, immersive, and pleasing to the eye, it's a great experience for anyone.
There was a brief introductory film informing guests of the tension building up to the war before you tour the museum.
Misconstruing Darwin's natural selection as "survival of the fittest," this served as Europe's "argument for colonialism, dominating non-European peoples, and engaging in arms races and inevitably war."
The museum was full of propaganda posters (and annoying light glares) - who knew they had been so beautifully illustrated?
We even got to design our own digital poster (which you can email yourself afterwards) at an interactive table!
Though I'm not sure Joan would agree this is the best way for women to save their country.
A gallery attendant informed me this was the only complete Japanese
infantry uniform in the entire world, that we know of.
The museum provided so many visuals - including lots of trenches. Their use of lighting throughout really stimulated surreal feelings of what it may have been like to be there. 
After being introduced to the trenches, there are a series of spots for you to peak through the rest of them.
It really was in the details that this place was made amazing. Not only did we see what they wore, the variety of weapons they used, their mess kits, their shoes - we saw their letters, photographs, tobacco pipes, buttons, sewing kits, welcome home signs - they really did have a little piece of everything.
The British Phenate-Hexamine anti-gas tube made of flannel cloth - one officer said it "smelt odd and breathing it in became sugary, while the goggles seemed inevitably veiled with moisture, highly beneficial in a crisis to one's opponent."
Next to the light tables (there were two different ones) there were cozy "Reflections" booths
where you can listen to various sounds from the time period.
While I already knew his maternal great-grandfather had been a pilot, I learned he once crashed into a barn and somewhere there is a picture of him standing proudly next to the aftermath - I'm dying to see this photo.
German Gotha bomber's painted insignia.
This is the point that it transitions into United States-focused participation in the War as we enter 1917 and take a look at President's Wilson re-election on the basis of him keeping the country out of the war. There's a hallway where you wait to see the next video, which is even better than the first.

The introductory words to the video really struck me:
"Not a trace of trench left... One can see nothing for smoke, fire, and spurting earth. We sink down, dazed, upon the tortured earth. A new day breaks, more horrible than the last... Men die of mud, as they die from bullets, but more horribly. Mud is where men sink and - what is worse - where their soul sinks. Mud hides the stripes of rank; there are only poor suffering beasts. Hell is not fire. Hell is mud."
Once again, we enter into the world of vivid propaganda posters. 
The glares were really killing me.

That bloodstain, though small, makes a big statement.
Renault FT-17 Tank.
This walk-through crater illustrated the effect of a 17in Howitzer shell's impact on a French farmhouse.
I would say some of my favorite artifacts were the medical supplies - to consider what they had to use for such gruesome wounds really makes you think...

There's still a lot of great artwork down in the basement.
Not to mention this excellent research center with a ground view of the poppies.
The base of the tower memorial.
We then headed upstairs for the centennial exhibition: They Shall Not Pass. It focused on the Western Front battles of 1916.
In a matching building across the way, the Volunteers exhibit focuses on the stories of American volunteer organizations.
Mostly, I was distracted by the beautiful murals. 
Plus, we finally found out about those sphinx-things.
And that's a wrap!

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