Night at the Museum
October 29, 2015

Book talks, displays, music, night at museum part of month-long events

From June 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918, World War I was fought. Also known as the First World War, The Great War or the Forgotten War, its devastation included 37 million killed, wounded or missing with over 8 million known dead. Land boundaries and political, social and emotional changes resulted around the world, leaving a lasting impact 100 years later. To commemorate World War I and to give local and area residents opportunities to learn more about this time in history, the Chillicothe Area Arts Council, the Grand River Historical Museum and the Livingston County Library joined to present a series of events which ran from Sunday, November 1, to Sunday, November 15. These events included lectures, films, exhibits, demonstrations, and a concert of music from the World War I era performed by a band of more than 50 professional musicians. All events were open to the public and all were free except the Night at the Museum ($5) where coffee and doughboy donuts were served by the Salvation Army (as it was in World War I) and the band concert ($15) which was part of the arts council's 2015-16 arts season. All events were held at the museum, the courtroom on the library's second floor, or at Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center.

Night at the Museum Photos / Julie Ashbrook

Museum director Pam Clingerman, library director Robin Westphal, library staff members Jean Looff and Kirsten Mouton and arts council administrator Julie Ashbrook worked for several months to put together a set of events they felt would be both enjoyable and educational for persons of all ages in our region. "Although the United States did not enter the war until 1917, we wanted to present events now, so that people in our area would have a chance to be informed about and to be thinking about the impact of this war on our lives today," Ashbrook said. "We know that a great deal of programming and writing about this war will be presented around the world over the next three years, and we wanted to present opportunities here to learn about the war now, so we would all have some knowledge to build on." "With Gen. John J. Pershing, head of the American Expeditionary Forces, growing up just 20 miles from here, and with the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, we north Missourians should be informed about this war," Ashbrook said.

Expanded World War I exhibits may be seen at the Grand River Historical Society Museum, and special lectures and films will be ongoing, according to museum curator Pam Clingerman. "I grew up in England so the stories I heard about World War I were different from the stories I have heard while living in the United States," she said. "In England, the war changed the class system dramatically, and of course in Europe there were so many young women at that time who never married because so many young men died in the war." Northwest Missouri presented much for Clingerman to learn. "I did not know about all of the mules that were raised in Missouri and sent to work in WWI or about all of the food that was raised in the Midwest and sent to feed the troops."

"When we began researching about the impact of WWI on our area, Kirsten Mouton had just begun working at the library, and she said she would take on trying to find who had served," Jean Looff, adult program coordinator at the library, said. "Kirsten unearthed a wealth of information. We are displaying beautifully illustrated sheet music from that era that was donated by the late Biggy Scanlon, a former Breckenridge resident. We have developed lists of books and movies available at the library on the topic of WWI, both fiction and non-fiction. And we are bringing in speakers who are experts in various areas of WWI history," Looff said.

The events kicked off Sunday with the 1 p.m. showing of a film at the Grand River Museum, 1401 Forest Drive. The film featured a boy and his horse during WWI. Expanded WWI exhibits are on display at the museum as well as the winning essays and posters from a recent contest for Livingston County middle and high school students on such WWI topics as the role of women, trench warfare, and the impact on social change in the world. A short documentary of the American doughboy ran as an exhibit through November 15 at the museum.

On Tuesday, November 3, events ran back-to-back at the library and museum with trench warfare expert Larry Burke from the Kansas Humanities Council speaking on the topic "Eye-Deep in Hell". Following the lecture, a 7 p.m. program "Night at the Museum" was held at the museum with the Salvation Army serving coffee and donuts, a little bit of home that was enjoyed by WWI doughboy soldiers. Chillicothe High School choral groups appeared in various parts of the museum singing songs from the WWI home front, and numerous exhibits of the WWI military and home front articles were on display.

From noon until 1 p.m., Wednesday, November 4, curator Denzil Heaney of the Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site spoke about Gen. Pershing and on the efforts to construct a memorial garden from the earth of WWI battlefields, a tribute to Pershing's commitment to honor lost soldiers. The 4th and 5th grade ukulele band, directed by Dan Venner, presented songs of WWI at noon, followed by Mr. Heaney's lecture.

CAPTION: Visitors to the Livingston County Library pass under local history when they enter the main part of the library. Hanging above the entrance is a banner listing the names of Livingston Countians known to have fought in World War I, also known as The Great War. Through utilizing the Livingston County Honor Roll publication as well as additional research, it was learned that approximately 650 Livingston Countians fought in the war and 29 had died. Several events commemorating 100 years since World War I were held at the museum and around the community close to Veterans' Day 2015.

C-T Photo / Brittany Tutt

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