History of the World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The World War I Museum and Memorial is a staple in Kansas City.

On April 6, the museum and memorial will host the commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.

Here’s a brief history of the World War I Museum and Memorial.

Creating the World War I Memorial

After World War I ended in 1918, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association (LMA) to create a monument to honor those who served in the war, according to the WWI Museum and Memorial.

In 1919, the LMA and Kansas City citizens raised more than $2.5 million in 10 days.

In 1921, the Allied commanders dedicated the site of the Liberty Memorial. The WWI Museum and Memorial said it’s the first time in history the five leaders were together in one place.

Construction on the memorial was completed in 1926. On November 11 of that year, President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Liberty Memorial in front of more than 150,000 people.

Restoring the memorial and creating the museum

Over the years, the structure of the memorial deteriorated and it was closed in 1994 due to safety concerns.

Four years later, Kansas City passed a limited-run sales tax to restore Liberty Memorial.

In addition to the restoration, there were plans to expand the site by building a museum to showcase WWI-related objects and documents the Liberty Memorial Association had been collecting since 1920, according to the WWI Museum and Memorial.

More than $102 million was raised for the restoration and expansion.

Designations for the World War I Museum and Memorial

In 2004, Congress designated the museum as the nation’s official World War I museum, and construction started on the museum underneath the Liberty Memorial.

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial opened in 2006. According to the museum and memorial’s website, since then more than 2 million people have visited the museum.

In 2014, Congress gave the museum and memorial a second designation from Congress, recognizing the museum and memorial as the National World War I Museum and Memorial.  

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