Friday, November 9, 2007

World War I Museum Ends 1st Year With a Bang

You some kind-a warmonger? No, but I respect Veterans who gave it all – for whatever reason . . . lest we forget. — LD

Rare, battle-scarred French tank from WWI
acquired for Museum collection,
nine decades after its last battle

KANSAS CITY, Mo -- After nearly a year of success beyond expectations, the National World War I Museum at Kansas City's Liberty Memorial has topped off the year with the acquisition of a rare jewel for its collection -- a battle-scarred WWI tank.

"To find such a rare artifact intact except for its actual battle damage, 90 years after it was built, gives us a great deal to celebrate on our upcoming first anniversary," said Brian Alexander, who was recently appointed as the Museum's new President/CEO, "especially considering that we made the acquisition as Armistice Day approaches."

The French-made Renault FT-17 tank, which still bears its camouflage markings and a huge hole left by German artillery, fills a key gap in the Museum's world-class collection of WWI weapons, uniforms, writings and other objects. A tank was the only major historically significant exhibit that has eluded the Museum since its organizers began collecting artifacts in 1920.

Renault FT-17 light tanks first saw battle in 1918. American tank forces used the French-made Renaults -- possibly including the one obtained by the Museum.

"What makes this the perfect tank for our collection is that it will be an important tool for interpreting World War I," said Doran Cart, Museum Curator. "You can see the original camouflage paint and the registration numbers that identified the tank. With those markings we have a good chance to learn about its exact battle history. We can't wait to do in-depth research into its history."

The tank was obtained in 1920 by an American from the French government and was on display in San Francisco for several years. The tank was eventually obtained by Hayes Otoupalik of Missoula, Montana, from whom the Museum purchased it for $225,000. The Museum must still raise an additional $175,000 to complete the acquisition.

An anonymous donor gave $125,000 for the down payment. The additional $175,000 that must be raised will cover the remaining cost of the tank, its transportation and for exhibit installation.

"The acquisition of this tank was a once-in-a-generation opportunity -- maybe our last chance. The Museum purchased it with only a portion of funding in hand," explains Eli Paul, Museum Director. "We have confidence that with the proven success of the new museum -- and the importance of this tank -- our patrons will come forward to help make this acquisition a reality."

Donations of any amount are welcome and are tax deductible. Checks can be made payable to the Liberty Memorial Association and mailed to PO Box 411475, Kansas City, MO 64141-1475.

Officially designated the National WWI Museum by the 108th Congress, the 50,000-square-foot core Museum exhibit and companion research center and archives are housed directly beneath the historic Liberty Memorial. The 217-foot Liberty Memorial Tower and two exhibit halls were built by the citizens of Kansas City and dedicated, in 1926, by President Calvin Coolidge.

Museum information is available at or (816) 784-1918.

SOURCE: National World War 1 Museum

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