State Museum Opens World War I Exhibition on April 15

Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Contact Information: 
Contact: Office of Communications Phone: (518) 474-1201


The New York State Museum will open A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War on April 15. On display through June 3, 2018, the exhibition explores New York’s pivotal role in World War I and features artifacts, images, posters, and documents from the collections of the State Museum, State Archives, State Library, and cultural institutions from across the state.

The exhibition is organized into six distinct areas covering New York’s participation in the war both at home and on the warfront, and features a life-size recreation of a trench on the Western Front. In addition, the Museum will offer an online exhibition featuring an interactive World War I timeline and a teacher’s guide (to be launched later this spring) and an exhibition catalogue (to be published by SUNY Press in December 2017).

"As we reflect on the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I, we remember the countless sacrifices that men and women made to keep this country safe," said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. "We also honor the thousands of New York and American soldiers who made the ultimate commitment to serve and protect our nation. This exhibition is an educational opportunity for adults, children, and students to learn and reflect on the events of World War I and understand the impacts of the war in New York, the nation, and the world."

“We’re proud to present an exhibition about New York’s role in World War I at the State Museum,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “The exhibition features posters, artifacts, and documents from the State Museum, Library, and Archives – as well as from institutions across the state – that reveal the significant role New York played in the war and the lasting impacts the conflict had at home and throughout the world. I encourage educators to utilize this exhibition to teach our students about this pivotal event in New York and American history.”

“We’re pleased to open A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York in the First World War at the State Museum,” said Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education and State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “No other state contributed more soldiers, supplies, and funds to the United States’ efforts in World War I than New York State. This exhibition is an opportunity for all New Yorkers and Americans to learn and reflect on the events of World War I and understand the impacts of the war in New York, the nation, and the world.”

New York State and its citizens played a critical role in the United States’ efforts during World War I. Both on the battlefield and on the home front, through industrial production as well as civic participation and debate, New Yorkers had a significant impact on the shaping of these events. By the end of the war, the Empire State would lead in the number of soldiers, tonnage of supplies, and money raised to support America’s efforts.

While New York’s contributions surpassed other states, its citizens were hardly united in their opinions about the conflict. These disagreements raised doubts about the nation’s ability to fight this war, and called into question the loyalty of many of its citizens. By interweaving the story of New York in “The Great War” and utilizing artifacts and the posters of the era, the exhibition presents a comprehensive examination of how these issues were faced, and of the importance of the state’s contributions.

The Museum will host a public opening reception for A Spirit of Sacrifice on Sunday, April 23 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The program includes a reception with light refreshments at 1:00 p.m., followed by a guided tour of the exhibition at 2:00 p.m.

Photos of select artifacts and documents in the exhibition are available here:

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located at 222 Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at