Largest WWI Mobile Museum travels across America but calls Marlow home

Updated: Jul. 3, 2020 at 3:23 PM CDT
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MARLOW, Okla. (TNN) - The world’s largest WWI traveling museum is stationed in southwest Oklahoma.

The WWI Mobile Museum is full of artifacts, pictures and displays.

“We’ve created a platform for our seniors and our veterans to come together and talk about their stories and their history and their background, especially our World War Two vets, as we all know we’re losing them every day. We’ve got Korea, we’ve got all the wars and unfortunately, we’ve got no one left from World War I. It gets the conversation started,” said museum curator Keith Arden Colley.

The entire museum sits inside one car and a trailer. Colley calls Marlow home but spends most of his time taking the museum anywhere and everywhere.

“We offer it to anybody. We’ve been to air shows, we’ve been to schools, love to go to schools. Basically, if someone wants us, we’ll make it happen,” Colley said.

Colley started this project several years ago after a conversation about World War One while working with people with Alzheimer’s.

“If you can awaken all five senses at one time, you’re going to get a better reaction from someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, so I thought you know what, he can talk to me about it but he needs to see and touch,” Colley said.

Colley then purchased his first WWI artifact - a shovel from Bulgaria.

“When I placed it into his hands he actually started crying because his dad brought his shovel home from WWI and it brought up all the stories, it was just a flood. I thought you know what, I need more artifacts,” Colley said.

Since then, Colley has purchased countless artifacts, taking them across the country to keep the history of WWI alive. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a hold on that, as he’s had to cancel 238 scheduled showings. But he’s spent that time making the museum better.

“One of the things that I’ve been working on while we’ve been closed down is a whole new section just on the role of women, whether they went over there to be phone operators or they stayed back to do jobs of the men and their own homes, so we’re going to paint a whole picture of what took place during this war, not just the war itself,” Colley said.

The trailer will be featured in the Marlow 4th of July Parade Saturday If you’re interested in seeing it or having it set up at an event, you can find more information here. You can also find a link on how to donate to the museum to ensure once the pandemic is over, it can still be shown to people across the country.

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