WW1 America invites audiences into a nuanced understanding of World War I as a transformational event in American history, a compressed and convulsive time of social, economic, and political change, a lens through which to understand what it means to be “modern.”
Although it was fought thousands of miles away, the war transformed the United States from a relatively provincial power on the world stage to a full-fledged global, military-industrial leader, held together by a newly powerful federal government and charged with confident patriotism. This is the America that dominates popular memory: the saturated hues of patriotic posters, jubilant crowds at Liberty Loan rallies, the ranks of manly Doughboys, and hearty choruses of “Over There.”
And yet there were darker sides of the American experience during the years 1914 to 1919: entire swaths of US cities engulfed in racial conflagrations; workers striking by the millions; women demonstrating in the streets demanding the right to vote; immigrants harassed and deported; dissenters and “hyphenated” Americans pursued, surveilled, jailed, or lynched; and violent disagreements about the nature of civil liberties.
The American stage during and just after World War I witnessed sharp challenges to virtually every familiar boundary—those of citizenship, gender, race, class, nationality, generation, culture, not to mention traditional assumptions about foreign entanglements. As the war came to an end, making the “world safe for democracy” may have actually seemed easier than making democracy even possible for millions of Americans at home.
And if the war did not have a precisely causal effect on social change during the period—for issues such as woman suffrage, African American migrations, Prohibition, labor struggles—it was nonetheless always in dialogue, sometimes violently, with the day’s upheavals, shaping the nation in profound and lasting ways. Indeed, so many issues from this period cascade down the years to our own time
WWI America explores vitally important stories of a transformational and divisive era, for a broad, multi-generational audience. The exhibition is visually dynamic, with large-scale photographs, moving images, multimedia environments, and re-created settings such as a music shop and grocery store. It is also a socially interactive forum, with stories and many period artifacts supported by authentic voices expressing competing views.
From the brutal realities of war to the vivid delights of popular culture, WW1 America offers visitors an engaging and compelling evocation of the many dimensions of this period, as well as an entry point into thinking about and making sense of our own times.
WW1 America is adapted from the Minnesota History Center’s exhibition WW1 America. The original exhibition was created by the Minnesota History Center in partnership with the National Constitution Center, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, and was supported by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
WW1 America will tour from April 2021 through March 2026. Dates are subject to change; please call for current availability.
Contact: MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872, ext. 208
- April 6–May 25, 2021 Irving Archive and Museum
Irving, TX booked
- June 16–August 11, 2021 Wright Museum of WWII
Wolfeboro, NH booked
- September 1–October 20, 2021 Boot Hill Museum
Dodge City, KS booked
- November 10, 2021–January 7, 2022 North Museum of Nature and Science
Lancaster, PA booked
- January 28–March 16, 2022 Washakie Museum & Cultural Center
Worland, WY booked
Exhibition Details & Specifications
Brian Horrigan, curator, Minnesota Historical Society
Organized ByMinnesota History Center in partnership with National Constitution Center, National World War I Museum and Memorial, Oakland Museum of California, and Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
The exhibition will feature several freestanding units focused on thematic areas; a collection of objects, artifacts, photographs, and paper ephemera; audio/video features; interactive elements; semi-immersive environment settings; and wall-mounted banners and graphics.
On-site support is free to the opening venue for every new NEH on the Road exhibition and to first-time hosting venues on a limited basis.
Expense covered by NEH on the Road. Exhibitor will coordinate with NEH on the Road's registrar for all outgoing transportation arrangements.
Approximately 2,000 square feet
Number of Crates/Total Weight
The exhibition is fully insured by NEH on the Road at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.