WWI Exhibit opens in downtown Aurora
The David L. Pierce Art and History Center’s World War I exhibit is open to the public for free until January 6, 2018. The exhibit is open from 12 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 20 E. Downer.
The exhibit is based off of the 1919 book With the Colors From Aurora, which was compiled by Aurorans about their experiences in World War I. The complete text of With the Colors From Aurora is available digitally at archive.org. Artifacts from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Memorial Museum and the Aurora Historical Society are also on display.
The World War I showcases the memorabilia of Auroran veterans of various branches of the United States Armed Forces, including the naval and army uniforms.
Posters, as well as other forms of propaganda from the era, are displayed alongside the other historical items.
One of the most impressive pieces contained in the exhibit is the lifesize replica of a trench, complete with costumes for visitors to try on, a model rifle, a gas alarm, and a periscope.
The exhibit’s interactive components, such as the full scale trench replica and coloring posters, make it appropriate for visitors of all ages, even children. However, its in-depth look into WWI’s impact on Aurora and greater America mean that it is engaging to older visitors with a stronger understanding of the war as well as tourists and longtime residents of Aurora alike.
While the exhibit does not explore the more gruesome parts of WWI to a large degree, it leaves visitors with a better appreciation for Aurora’s role in the war effort along with the war’s impact on the city itself due to the homage it pays to the Aurorans that participated.
Laura Nicholson Tom, a employee at the David L. Pierce Art and History Center, believes that the exhibit is significant to Aurora because “our contribution, as a city, was large despite the war’s short duration.”
Words and photos by Jyotsna “Jo” Balmuri.