National Air and Space Museum Observes World War I Centenary With Exhibition and Film Series

Press Release

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 2:15pm

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The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will observe the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I with artistic, interactive and educational offerings. “Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War,” a collaborative exhibition with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will open April 6. A free WWI film series begins Feb. 17 at both of the museum’s buildings, and online presentations and interactive activities will be available to enthusiasts near and far through the museum website and GO FLIGHT app.

WWI marked a turning point in how war was depicted with the appearance of artwork that captured the moment in a realistic way, by firsthand participants. “Artist Soldiers” examines this form of artistic expression from two complementary perspectives: one, professional artists who were recruited by the U.S. Army; the other, soldiers who created artwork. The exhibition will open at the museum in Washington, D.C., exactly 100 years to the day after the United States entered the war.

“Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen,” a year-long film series that will explore the most visually striking and engaging dramas about WWI, will begin with Wings, Feb. 17. Many of the films will feature special activities and refreshments before or after the film. All films will be shown at 7 p.m. at both the museum in Washington, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Film Series Dates:

Feb. 17 – Wings

March 17 – The Dawn Patrol

April 7 – The Fighting 69th

April 21 – Hell’s Angels

May 26 – All Quiet on the Western Front

June 16 – The Eagle and the Hawk

July 14 – Paths of Glory

Aug. 11 – The Millionaires’ Unit: U.S. Naval Aviators in the First World War

Sept. 15 – Gallipoli

Oct. 20 – The Blue Max

Nov. 11 – The Lost Squadron

For more information and to reserve free tickets, the public can visit

Through the museum’s mobile app, GO FLIGHT, the public can receive regular notifications when new stories and videos about WWI are available. Two new tours about WWI and “Artist Soldiers” will also be available on the app. The museum’s social media channels will also present live and engaging interactions with followers such as a live preview tour of the “Artist Soldiers” exhibition before opening to the public and a Q&A with the curator. For a collection of the museum’s WWI content, visit

The museum’s popular webcast series, “STEM in 30,” a 30-minute program that engages middle school students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics, will host a special program on WWI and the exhibition April 26 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The hosts will explore the technological advances of the war that solidified the airplane’s legacy as a fighting machine. In conjunction with the Residence of the Ambassador of Belgium, viewers will also learn how the war affected the lives of children in an occupied country and how lace makers helped feed a nation. To learn more, visit

Americans Underground: Secret City of World War I, a one-hour Smithsonian Channel program, will premiere March 13. The program follows explorer and photographer Jeff Gusky through an underground cave system in northern France where soldiers on all sides took shelter on the front lines. The soldiers etched inscriptions and carved artworks into the walls of the caves, providing a glimpse of the humanity of the people who fought in this world-changing conflict that engulfed millions. Visitors to the museum will be able to see a large selection of Gusky’s photos of the stone carvings in the “Artist Soldiers” exhibition.

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Attendance at both buildings combined was 9 million in 2016, making it the most-visited museum in America. Both buildings are open from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25). The museum’s mobile app, GO FLIGHT, allows visitors to connect with the collection and its stories beyond the museum’s walls.

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  • Self-portrait of PFC Archie Sweetman

    Self-portrait of PFC Archie Sweetman. The signature “Sweetman of South Boston” in pencil still remains. Sweetman, of Company E, 101st Infantry Regiment, in the famed 26th “Yankee Division,” spent six weeks underground in February/March 1918. After the war he became a successful artist. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1993 at age 98. 

  • Charcoal drawing.

    Helping a Wounded Ally
    Harry Everett Townsend
    Charcoal on paper, 1918