KANSAS CITY, MO. – The National WWI Museum and Memorial announced the completion of its $25 million “Call to Duty” capital campaign.
Funds raised through the campaign were used to significantly enhance the United States’ official WWI museum and memorial, including the construction of a new state-of-the-art exhibition gallery, educational collaborations and partnerships with organizations across the world, renovation of the exterior grounds, replacement of essential infrastructure and more.
“The Call to Duty campaign strongly positions the organization to continue its work as America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War’s enduring impact,” said National WWI Museum and Memorial President and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor. “The Board of Trustees has endorsed an ambitious program agenda that will further strengthen the work of the Museum and Memorial and ensure that its mission connects even more deeply with the public as we enter the second century of learning from the first global conflict in human history.”
Academy Award-winning director/actor Kevin Costner and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and current Kansas State University President General (ret.) Richard Myers served as the National Honorary Chairs with Henry Bloch, William H. Dunn, Sr., Ollie Gates and Jeannette Nichols serving as Campaign Honorary Chairs. Mary Beth and Thomas Butch and Christine and Sandy Kemper were the Working Chairs for the campaign.
More than $5 million of the funds were used to create the Wylie Gallery, a new exhibition space. The gallery opened in February 2018 with John Singer Sargent Gassed, an exhibition built around the artist’s epic work - one of the largest war-related paintings in the world.
Other initiatives made possible through the campaign include a recent joint-effort with Scholastic to provide education-related content to millions of students across the country, an expansion of the Museum and Memorial’s collection as well as the digitization of the collection, renovation of the J.C. Nichols Auditorium, the expansion of staff, a systematic upgrade of software platforms and more.
Organizations that contributed more than $500,000 to the campaign include: the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the David T. Beals, III Charitable Trust, the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, the City of Kansas City, Mo., the DeBruce Foundation, the Hall Family Foundation, the Illig Family Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation, the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation, the Sunderland Foundation, the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission and the Jack F. and Glenna Y. Wylie Foundation.
Since the campaign began, the Museum and Memorial has experienced an increase of more than 60 percent in attendance with records broken annually in each of the last four years (2014-17) culminating with nearly 600,000 guests served in 2017. In 2017 and 2018, the Museum and Memorial co-curated and toured what has become the most-visited exhibition commemorating the U.S. engagement in WWI in the world. With foot traffic of more than 6.2 million people, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-1918 has toured 10 cities including London, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City. Additionally, the Museum and Memorial has set records for exhibitions curated, website traffic, social media traffic and media impressions during the campaign.
About the National WWI Museum and Memorial
The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. The Museum and Memorial takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial and located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the National WWI Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.