First phase of major renovations at WWI Museum complete

Union Station, and the World War I Memorial in Kansas City
Union Station, and the World War I Memorial in Kansas City
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:55 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WIBW) - The first phase of a major, multi-year renovation project at the World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City has been completed.

The World War I Museum and Memorial announced that the Lower Level of its facility reopened to the public on Friday, May 19. After a year-long renovation project, the level features the new Bergman Family Gallery and Open Storage Center.

Officials noted that the new gallery is about 4,000 square feet of storage and boasts a 190-foot “coastline” of window cases to allow them to display objects and artifacts otherwise unavailable to visitors. This is the most extensive renovation since the museum opened in 2006.

The Museum said it started to collect in 1920 just after the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. Now, it is the most comprehensive collection of WWI artifacts in the world and continues to grow as objects that represent nations from across the globe are added almost every week. The collection also boasts more than 350,000 items and only a small percentage will be on display for the public - which makes open storage a valuable way to share more.

Officials also indicated that the Lower Level features the updated R.A. Long Learning Center, Ellis Gallery and Edward Jones Research Center - as well as additional spaces for small groups and students to learn about the collection and the impact of the war. The feature exhibition in the Ellis Gallery is “Mail Call” which also opened on Friday.

“The Bergman Family Gallery and Open Storage Center allow us to display objects and artifacts otherwise behind closed doors and unavailable for visitors to view,” said Matthew Naylor, President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. “But this is just the beginning! The completion of this project is the first of many upgrades and renovations to come.”

According to the Museum, the Lower Level renovations started a multi-year strategic effort to provide crucial upgrades to its spaces, make the collection more accessible to the public and create a more immersive experience. Renovations to the Main Gallery will start in the fall and will be finished by 2025. Visitor impact is expected to be minimal.

The Museum noted that admission to the Lower Level is included with the purchase of a general admission ticket.