World War I exhibit opens at Historical Society

To commemorate World War I, the Greenwich Historical Society has opened its new exhibit, Greenwich Faces the Great War.

The exhibit will be open until March 22, 2015, and was put together to reveal what transpired on the home front. The multi-media exhibition depicts Greenwich’s role in World War I including aerial warfare, harvesting food at home, military arms manufacturing and more.

The war shaped the history, economics, politics, social life and geographical boundaries of the 20th century. Empires were destroyed, new technologies emerged, and methods of warfare changed. And the United States became a superpower. History books, documentaries, and news reports provide detailed descriptions of the European Theater during the Great War. But what happened on the home front?

Events that took place thousands of miles away in Europe changed everyday life for Greenwich residents in various and often unexpected ways. The impact was most profound on men of military-service age, but it extended to all members of the community—from what they ate and what they grew in their gardens to the daily activities they pursued or shunned. Distant events even colored how certain individuals were perceived within the community.

From the discourse preceding the war to the actions and influence of its citizens once the war began, the exhibit, according to the Historical Society, provides “rich material and multiple perspectives on a conflict that to this day influences international politics and continues to shape history.”

A multifaceted, multimedia exhibition, Greenwich Faces the Great War contains personal belongings, official documents, diaries, posters, artwork, recordings created by the Greenwich Library Oral History project, and readings from original Historical Society archival material, that bring these critical years to life. Compelling images, artifacts and documents will illustrate the diverse experiences of military personnel, volunteers, and civilians alike.

“Greenwich Faces the Great War is our first multimedia project,” explains Debra L. Mecky, Executive Director of the Greenwich Historical Society. “By using iPads, listening to oral histories, and seeing the personal artifacts, visitors will gain a rich understanding of the diverse opinions expressed by leading and ordinary citizens, and how discourse was squelched after the United States entered the War.”

As an added bonus, visitors to the exhibition can visit Bush-Holley House, which will be staged as it might have looked in 1914. A special tour and temporary installation will demonstrate how Greenwich inhabitants supported the war effort at home. A patriotic home vegetable garden is on view during the 2014-growing season.

Greenwich Faces the Great War is supported by a matching grant from Connecticut Humanities and gifts to the Historical Society’s annual fund and exhibition patron’s council.

A full list of programs through the next few months is available online at Greenwichhistory.org.

Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday in January and February). Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and free for members and children ages six and under. For further information, call 203-869-6899 or visit Greenwichhistory.org.

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