by Asst. Editor Kimball Worcester
Despite having studied the Great War and its legacies for some decades, this was my first trip to the one hundred-year-old museum and memorial in Kansas City, MO. When first built, on a substantial rise, the edifice and tower must have dominated the skyline for some distance. Its presence is now diminished somewhat by surrounding buildings, but when walking the paths and stairs around it on that rise, the visitor is struck by the true aesthetic solemnity of the design and its execution. The commitment of the citizens of Kansas City at the time to commemorate the recent war resulted in a venue and collection that honor and educate, celebrate and mourn.
Sculpture on the Main Floor
Russian Woman Machine Gunner's Coat, c. 1918/19
My Sketch in Hopes of Replicating
Uniforms abound at the museum: a Russian nurse’s uniform, which I surmise came from a Kaufmann Society nurse, given that the dress is black. The Kaufman Nursing Society was established in 1900 in St. Petersburg by the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna. The schooling was strict and the nurses held to a high standard. Their graduates served with well-recognized diligence, professionalism, and distinction on all fronts in the most difficult of wartime circumstances.
The tunic below belonged to a member of a Kornilov regiment in the Volunteer Army during the civil war, with its identifying death’s head patch. Various representative uniforms from all fronts and fighting units, air, sea, and land, emphasize the involvement of real women and men and bring the pathos of their fates into high relief.
Kornilov Regiment Patch and a Chevron of the
Volunteer Army Colors
Another work of art presents in the form of a puzzle bearing a beautiful painting of a submarine and two seaplanes. The artistry in the seascape caught my eye, but the clear identification of the U-boat piqued my historian's curiosity. U-72, type UE-1, was built in Hamburg in 1915 and commissioned in Jan 1916. She experienced four different commanders and four patrols between April 1916 and November 1918, based in the Adriatic. U-72 was scuttled on 1 November 1918 at Cattaro, present-day Kotor in Montenegro. How satisfying it is to visit a museum, enjoy anew all the aspects one has studied for years, and to come away with a new bit of knowledge. Thank you, National WWI Museum and Memorial.