8. National World War I Museum and Memorial,Kansas City, MO Undisclosed number, ±100 on display. Established in 1926, reopened in 2006

National World War I Museum and Memorial Exterior
National World War I Museum and Memorial Case


The National World War I Museum and Memorial, originally called the Liberty Memorial Museum, opened in 1926. Its expansion was completed in 2006 and Congress designated it America’s official World War I Museum. Along with the Edward Jones Research Center, it is home to one of the largest Great War collections in the world, and has more than 75,000 items. It is encyclopedic in nature and includes small arms, artillery, artifacts and documents from most of the nations involved in the world’s first global conflict.

Items include everything from rare treasures of national significance to a display of all of the items a soldier carried, putting his rifle and ammunition in a larger context. Small arms are not exhibited in a dedicated gallery. Instead the curators have put firearms into context with other artifacts and globally relevant concepts. The small arms collection includes all the classic WWI military production firearms. One case displays ten different bolt action rifles and pistols from the major combatants of WWI, and includes a fine skeletonized German M1879 Reichsrevolver. Another unique contextual display shows fourteen different kinds of ammunition alongside a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), America’s first fully automatic assault rifle. A French CSRG Chauchat 1915 machine rifle and accessories is displayed, as well as a rare 13mm Mauser T-Gewehr, the world’s first anti-tank rifle.

The museum is curated into four general sections and the cases, lighting and displays are well designed, giving artifacts as many viewing vantage points as possible. Items are numbered, and referenced to labels at the base of the cases. 2004-era computer displays explain some firearms. The Online Collections Database includes period photographs and drawings of small arms but none of the machineguns, rifles or pistols in the collection are depicted and there is no online firearm catalog available, which compromises remote study.