back to top

WWI Gas Mask at Local Museum Needs Your Vote

A World War I gas mask belonging to the Historical Society of Western Virginia in Roanoke is among the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in the state as identified by the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM). The items are competing in a public vote for funding to help with their restoration.

This is the eleventh year for the program established to raise awareness of threatened treasures.   The public vote began Feb. 20 and ends March 3. VAM will award $4,000 to 10 items at the 2023 Annual Conference in Harrisonburg this year. Two items will receive $1,000 grants and the other eight get $250 each.

The Small Box Respirator gas mask is a reminder of the chemical warfare relating to the Great War.   It was used by Lt. Robert Johnson of the 318th Infantry, 80th Division, when he deployed to France in May 1918. The mask is in poor condition, with rubber components brittle, the elastic headband deteriorated, visible rusting on the yellow-painted canister and cracks in the resin-coated glass lenses. Johnson, from Bedford, remained in the Virginia National Guard until his death in 1930.

The online poll is at, and voters can cast a ballot daily. “Vote, and vote often,” says curator Ashley Webb, who nominated the item. It is on display in the Gift Shop at the History and Link Museums in the former Norfolk Western passenger station on Shenandoah Avenue.

A panel of conservation experts drawn from VAM, the Library of Virginia, Preservation Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources will select the winners.

Other artifacts in the 2023 program are:

  • Office of Historic Alexandria: George Lewis Seaton’s Bible, 1853
  • Amherst County Museum & Historical Society: Mount Moriah Baptist Church Pulpit Bible, 1867
  • Edgar Allan Poe Museum: Ambrotype of Edgar Allan Poe, 1848
  • James Madison Museum: Portrait of James Madison, in Retirement, 1833
  • MacArthur Memorial: Independence Proclamation of the President of the Philippines, General Emilio Aguinaldo, 1899
  • Red Hill: Patrick Henry’s Law Book, 1785
  • Rocktown History: Harrisonburg Spring House Finial, 1832
  • Stratford Hall: Last Will and Testament of Arthur Lee, 1792
  • Virginia Beach Museums: 18th Century Calamanco Quilt

More information can be found at


Photo of gas mask attached: On display at the Roanoke History Museum

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles