A dirty, dented Russian mess kit pail. A brown, buttoned American Doughboy uniform. A notoriously unreliable French machine gun. A British Victory Medal. A German gas mask.
These were just some of the artifacts on display Monday when “Honoring Our History,” Waddell & Reed’s travelling World War I exhibition, made stop No. 16 of 75 scheduled stops on WSU’s campus outside the Connor Museum.
Contained aboard a customized tractor-trailer, the exhibit is a partnership between the National World War I History Museum at Liberty Memorial, located in Kansas City, Mo., and Waddell & Reed, one of the nation’s oldest mutual fund companies.
Besides artifacts, the exhibit details the history of the war with historical descriptions, a walk-through trench and several videoscreens featuring video clips and slideshows set to sound effect-filled audio. The exhibit also details U.S. involvement in the war, including the contributions of women and African-Americans.
According to a press release, the exhibit is meant to honor veterans while raising awareness and funds for the WWI museum and other cultural institutions across the country during difficult economic times. Admission is free, but donations made at each tour stop are split between the WWI museum and the local museum hosting the exhibit.
Jeff Feuerstein, spokesman and lead financial advisor for Waddell & Reed’s Pullman office, said bringing the exhibit to Pullman was the result of knowing a few people at the company’s home office.
Feuerstein, who graduated from WSU in 1985, said the exhibit was a great tie-in between the 2014 centennial of World War I and the 75th anniversary of Waddell & Reed, whose founders both served in the armed forces during World War I but did not see actual combat.
Waddell’s flight suit, goggles and log book are part of the more than 60 artifacts displayed.
Feuerstein said he expected about 1,000 people to visit the display, and added there were a mixture of community members — including veterans — and students who were stopping by.
“I think it’s just an eye-opener to see how crude warfare was back then,” said Kyle Mumma, junior political science and pre-med major. Mumma added that his favorite part of the exhibit was looking at the old, standardized uniforms.
Scott Kelly, a fabricator who helped build the tractor-trailer that houses the exhibit, as well as the trench inside it, travels around the country with the display.
Kelly said it took a five-man crew 87 days to build the customized big rig the exhibit is housed in. Overall, he said the exhibit is great PR for the museums involved, and donations at each stop have been averaging roughly $1,000 to $2,000.
“It tells a story,” he said. “The whole concept of it — it’s awesome.”
Kelly’s favorite part is the trench.
“It’s like being there,” he said.