Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by Jody Halsted
On November 1, 1921 five Allied leaders, Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium; General Armando Diaz of Italy; Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France; General John J. Pershing of the United States; and Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain, came together across from Union Station for the dedication of the Liberty Memorial.
As you walk up north lawn you begin to notice the Great Frieze, one of the largest frieze carvings in the world. Sculpted by Edmond Amateis is measures 148 feet long and 18 feet tall. Depicting the process from war to peace it is amazing to view.
Note: approaching the National WW I Museum and Liberty Memorial this way requires a lot of climbing. I did notice wheelchair ramps but they were very steep. The entrance to the National WW I Museum can be more easily reached from the free parking on W. 26th Street.
The National War Museum sits below the base to the south of the Liberty Memorial. It can be reached by stairs from the memorial or by a walkway from the parking lot. The front doors are imposing but the lobby is bright and quite open.
The main corridor is lined with an interactive portrait gallery of those who participated in World War I. Touch screen stations tell their stories.
To enter the museum, the Memory & Exhibit Halls and to go to the top of the Liberty Memorial requires purchase of a ticket. Currently the museum is $8, the Memorial is $4 and a combination ticket is $10. Seniors, youth and military have special rates. For current price information click here. Museum hours are Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5 pm. It is closed Mondays except Memorial Day and Labor Day.
To enter the museum you cross the Paul Sunderland Bridge, a glass floor that spans a field of 9,000 poppies; one poppy for every 1000 combatant deaths in World War I.
Depending on your timing you will either enter the William Thornton Kemper Theater and view a short film that explains the world events that led to the war. Otherwise you will begin viewing the exhibits and will be called back to view the film. I recommend watching it; there is much insight in it.
Inside the museum are artifacts, time lines, interactive tables, galleries, incredible propaganda posters… Anything and everything having to do with World War I. It was, honestly, too much for the girls to take in but I know Doug would have liked to spend more time there. It is fascinating. By learning our past we can plot our future. To view some of the exhibits check out this slideshow.
The Horizon Theater, at the rear of the museum, show a 15 minute film that begins with the question, “Should America enter the war?”.
Also in the museum building are restrooms, water fountains, the Over There Cafe (their food is named for people and places of World War I) and the museum store.
As you climb the steps to the Liberty Memorial (there are very nice ramps on this side of the memorial, as well) stop to notice the Sphinxes on either side. Both have wings shielding their faces: Memory to block the horrors of the war and Future to symbolize what is yet unseen. You can also reach this level via elevator.
On either side of the Liberty Memorial are two identical buildings: Memory Hall and Exhibit Hall.
Memory Hall is filled with personal memories and amazing murals. It’s impossible to describe the emotion I felt as I walked through here.
Exhibit Hall houses rotating exhibits and also has amazing murals.
My favorite mural, over the entrance of Memory Hall.
A close up of the banner:
The Liberty Tower is 217 feet high. Visitors can access the top via elevator + a 45 stair climb. It is not handicapped accessible.
Also in the National World War I Museum:
Public Research Room Admission is free.
Class and conference rooms
J.A. Nichols Auditorium Often used for museum programs, lectures and films.
Thoughts: My girls were fascinated by the displays in the museum. Though they bored relatively quickly they did ask many questions and I know we will return here as they get older. Precious pieces of our history are here reminding us not to forget.
Crown Center is located next to the World War I Museum and offers restaurants, hotels, shopping and entertainment.