previous arrow
next arrow
previous arrow
next arrow


2015.93.0Pen and ink decorated memory plaque of pen and ink decorated airplane fabric from those who served in the U.S. Air service at Carruthers Field, Texas, 1917-1919.

Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI exhibit coming to WWI Museum 

By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY – “Remember Me.” “Souvenir de France.” “Mother Dear.” “Merci!”

These and countless other sentiments are expressed in the fabric art that came from World War I. Romantic and patriotic scenes were created on silk and cotton and wool felt. Many of the objects were made in direct response to those loved ones going to war from every country. Others were made for commercial purposes to serve the clamor for souvenirs.

"Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI" explores expressions of remembrance through striking and moving works from the Museum and Memorial’s collection.

Regardless of initial purpose, the fabric art became a colorful reminder of how deeply the war affected those at home and away. Among others, needlepoint, silk screen, embroidery, quilting, painting and cross-stitch all served an outlet to artistically express love, fear, loss and memory.

Corporal Walter Bullard, Co. F., 603rd Engineers wrote home:

“I am enclosing a handkerchief that I bought for you. It is rather pretty with the French flag and Stars and Stripes together. They sell quite a bunch of them to the boys to send home and there is hardly a town that I have been in that you can’t find hundreds in stores. They have all colors and with different words and such. Some have all the Allied flags worked in the corner.”

The exhibition features incredible objects from Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States, including decorative pillow cases, flags, tapestries, banners, maps and much more.

One particularly fascinating object is a quilt featuring 89 autographs from noteworthy figures from across the world at the time of the World War I armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. Among the signatories: U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson, Queen Alexandra of Denmark, Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Orville Wright, 41 state governors and many more.

2018.138.0.14Many soldier-made pieces of fabric art were done as occupational therapy.

DSCN3018Imperial Russian cloth doily with lace edging with center decoration of Russian air service insignia of winged propeller and lettering for Imperial 4th Air Group.

 IMG 5192Imperial German silk-screened fabric table cover showing many of the German military leaders in 1914. Such covers were often used on small tables at the entry of a home to show patriotic fervor.

"Pershing" Donors

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo

Starr Foundation Logo