Liberty Memorial exhibit looks at the origins of World War I

A wide gap between rich and poor, a scramble for natural resources, religious and ethnic clashes across the globe.

Sound familiar?

“The road to World War I was paved with struggles that continue to impact our world today,” said Doran Cart, senior curator at the Liberty Memorial, in announcing a new exhibit in advance of the centennial of that conflict.

“Road to War: World Power and Imperialism 1904-1914” includes objects as well as photographs and other materials that shed light on the state of the world in that era. Other factors that led to the war included colonialism, nationalism and a global arms race.

“The world is overloaded and overarmed,” proclaimed The London Economist less than a year before the war began with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

The new exhibit at the Liberty Memorial is included with museum admission and runs through April 20 next year.

Among the objects on display is the uniform of a servant in an elite Bavarian household, including red velvet breeches.

The display also includes a Japanese infantry uniform from the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and a medal commemorating Belgium’s annexation of Congo in 1909.

The exhibit draws on the Liberty Memorial’s extensive collection as well as those of other museums and sources. Some items have never been displayed at the memorial before.

Four of the eight members named so far to the 12-person World War I Centennial Commission, which was created by Congress to coordinate centennial activities, have Kansas City connections. They include mortgage banker James B. Nutter Sr. and Mary Davidson Cohen, chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Liberty Memorial Association.

They also include James S. Whitfield of Independence, a Navy veteran of World War II who has held several posts in the American Legion, and Richard Kolb, editor in chief of the VFW magazine, based in Kansas City.

Other members are U.S. Rep. Ted Poe of Texas; Jerry L. Hester, former president of Interdyne Corp.; Thomas Moe, a retired Air Force colonel; and Phillip C. Peckman, owner of Peckman Outdoor Media.