Faces of Kansas City: Preserving history for generations to come - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Preserving history for generations to come

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Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Laura McCallister Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Laura McCallister
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Did you know when you visit the National World War I Museum you're really just seeing a fraction of the entire museum's fascinating displays and objects? They just don't have enough room to display everything. Most of the items are kept underground below the museum. It's an area very few people get to see but this Faces of Kansas City is giving people a glimpse.

Doran Cart knows his history.

"I've been in the museum field since 1974," said the senior curator.

Cart's been a curator at the National World War I Museum for more than two decades. But this is much more than a museum to Cart - it's a shrine honoring life and death.

"This is how we learn about their lives," he said. "This is how we touch what they did."

It's Cart's job to know absolutely everything about everything in the museum. But it's the people who are now long gone that drive him.

"He trained, was commissioned to second lieutenant, got to France and was killed in action," he said.

One of the museum's most recent donations is the temporary grave marker of a British soldier killed in France. The soldier's grandson wanted the museum to have it, including his war medals.

To Cart, the grave marker isn't just about history, it's about humanity.

"When I'm working with the objects from World War I, I'm having that direct connection with the person who wore it or made it," he said. "I like that connection."

Cart does most of his work below the museum in a storage area that houses 90 percent of the museum's vast collection. The public is not allowed down in the storage area.

The area houses anything from uniforms to an old siren that warned of a gas attack to wooden toys made by wounded British soldiers.

"This is a Belgium grenadiers' uniform probably from August of 1914," said Cart. "They would make these (the wooden toys) as part of their therapy - they would also sell them."

It is a World War I treasure trove with thousands and thousands of items.

"This is really cool. Most people would say it's just a skillet, but it was given in Germany when they were fundraising. They called it ‘gold for iron' and you would get a souvenir from that," he said of another item he showed KCTV5's Brad Stephens.

Cart meticulously studies and documents every single item either donated or purchased by the museum.

He's recording history not just for those currently living but for generations to come.

"I'm really collecting it for people 500 years from now. I really want them to have this available to learn from and see this history," said Cart.

Cart's job keeps him busy. The museum receives donated World War I items from around the globe on an almost daily basis.

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