New Special Exhibition Explores Origins of World War I

Road to War: World Power and Imperialism, 1904-1914 opens May 3, 2013, at the National World War I Museum.


Examine the pivotal events that led to the outbreak of history’s first global conflict in the National World War I Museum’s new exhibition, Road to War: World Power and Imperialism, 1904-1914.

Opening Friday, May 3, 2013, in Exhibit Hall, the Museum’s inaugural Centennial special exhibition explores the 10 years leading to the outbreak of World War I, a decade that witnessed a series of conflicts between the major European powers over territory in Europe and overseas possessions. Visitors will learn about many other contributing factors including European colonialism, American imperialism, the rise of nationalism, cultural awareness and the social divides which led to unrest and revolt against the imperial monarchies.

“As we prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, we are proud to share the fascinating stories that led to this important time in history,” said Dr. Mary Davidson Cohen, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National World War I Museum. “From Manchuria on the Asian Pacific Coast to North Africa and the Balkans, Road to War embarks on an extraordinary journey you won’t want to miss.”

Remarkable objects, documents and photographs of 1904-1914 colorfully illustrate many of the events, countries and people of the period. Drawing upon the Museum’s extensive collection as well as those of other museums and sources, the exhibition includes many items never before seen at the Museum.

From a nearly-complete Japanese infantry uniform, backpack and original documents of a soldier who served in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 to a Belgian art medal in honor of King Leopold II which celebrated the annexation of Congo by Belgium in 1909, the exhibition offers a thought-provoking experience for visitors of all ages.

Other highlights include:

  • A distinctive uniform, worn by a male servant of an upper-class household, as an example of the division between the classes in the Imperial Powers of Europe and the wealth held by a few. It consists of a vest and breeches made of red velvet with embroidered edging of the coat of arms of Graf (Count) von Faber-Castell, Nuremburg, Bavaria.
  • Numerous quotes from individuals of the time and historians of the period that give personal connections to the objects and events.
  • A Russian periodical cartoon that features Serbia and Bulgaria butting heads over territory while the Russian bear and Austro-Hungarian wolf look on with great interest. Additionally, a scrapbook with an article dated January 9, 1911, shows the potential confrontation between Greece and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in the Balkans.​

Road to War, open through April 20, 2014, is included with admission and free for Museum members.

For more information on the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, visit www.theworldwar.org.

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