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Life in the Trenches Exhibit

Life in the Trenches Exhibit

The Smoky Hill Museum designed and produced a traveling exhibit to send around Kansas, and its first stop is right here in Salina at the Smoky Hill Museum. The exhibit is Life in the Trenches. It explores the human face of WWI and the miserable nature of trench warfare. This unique exhibit focuses on the harrowing first person accounts of Kansas soldiers’ lives in the trenches. It will be on display in the Museum lobby through November 30, 2021.

The exhibit is based on a previous temporary exhibit, In the Trenches, the Museum showed in 2018. That exhibit was about Company M of Salina. The new exhibit, Life in the Trenches, has morphed into a traveling exhibit focusing on the miserable nature of the trenches using vivid, first-hand accounts from Kansas soldiers of their ordeals, trials, and tribulations.

Exhibit themes include:

What was the reasoning behind using trenches in the war?

What did the trenches look like?

What was life like in the trenches?

What are examples of Kansans in the trenches?

Included with this exhibit are three interactive elements including:

Vet Vignettes – Information and accounts from Kansas, American, Allied, and Central Power troops in a simple to navigate touch-screen format

Gas Attack – Users will be challenged to respond quickly and prepare themselves for a gas attack before it is too late

Not Five Star Food – Explore a WWI era mess kit and the recipes they might have used on the battlefield

A packet of educational activities will also be available to host venues for staff and/or teachers to use to expand upon the topics covered.

This mobile exhibit comes in a flexible arrangement that can be modified to meet a host venue’s space requirements. Visitors will love the concise story that focuses on Kansas soldiers in the trenches of WWI.

For additional questions about becoming a host venue, contact Joshua Morris, Curator of Exhibits, at

A very special thanks goes to Earl Bane Foundation, City of Salina Kansas, and the Friends of the Smoky Hill Museum for helping make this exhibit possible.

The Smoky Hill Museum gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the many individuals who shaped our thinking during exhibition development, including Doran Cart, Senior Curator at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, in Kansas City.

The Smoky Hill Museum is a nationally accredited history museum in the heart of downtown Salina, Kansas. This FREE museum is open Tuesday-Friday 11 am-5 pm and Saturday 10 am-5 pm. Also, be sure to stop by the Museum Store for a wide variety of regional and Kansas products, local artwork, and gifts for all ages.