From Flying Aces to Army Boots: WWI and the Chattahoochee Valley

March 15 - August 27, 2017
Third Floor Galleries

  • Sidney H. Risenburg , "Over the Top for You" Third Liberty Loan poster
    ca.1918
    Courtesy of Richard D. Williams

  • Medal
    This medal, for the Masonic Knights Templar Order of Malta, was found on a French battlefield in 1918 by soldier T. Cheeks from Girard (present-day Phenix City),
    Museum purchase
    G.1993.13.42

  • Troy Ensley
    ca.1918
    Courtesy of Columbus State University Archives

  • Lena Ensley
    ca.1918
    Courtesy of Columbus State University Archives

Once thought of as the war to end all wars, World War I ushered in a new era of global military engagements. The United States’ entry for the last 18 months of the war also marked a shift in American foreign policy. This exhibition explores the effects of World War I in the Chattahoochee Valley. Beyond military history, the exhibition will look at the social and political climate in the region during the first years of the war, 1914-1917, and changes to the home front during 1917-1918, alongside the local opinion of President Woodrow Wilson and the Treaty of Versailles. The experiences of local soldiers who fought in World War I receive special attention, as well as the impetus for the creation of Camp (now Fort) Benning at the end of the war as a U.S. Army infantry training school. African Americans’ service in the war, the life and career of Columbus native and French flying ace Eugene Bullard, and women’s volunteer service at home and abroad are showcased.

Artifacts from public and private collections illuminate these varied experiences and stories. A special exhibition feature is a site-specific installation by contemporary artist Danielle Frankenthal, entitled A War Room. Frankenthal’s sculptures and paintings are inspired by World War I and what she calls “the ceaseless cycle of war, suffering, glorifying, and forgetting.” Based in part on the classic poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, her work explores soldiers’ experiences before and after war, both then and now.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by the Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance and the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau. It is endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

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