With hundreds of military museums in the UK alone, how do you know which one will best suit your interests? Here, MHM has picked some of the best museums and exhibitions to visit this year, from hidden gems to long-established sites.
France’s Musée de la Grande Guerre showcases a unique collection of some 50,000 First World War artefacts in a purpose-built building that attempts to place the First World War in its 20th and 21st Century context.
The museum’s collection is truly diverse, including soldiers’ and officers’ uniforms, weapons, everyday objects from both the frontline and civilian areas, posters, postcards, newspapers, photos, artwork, and engravings.
The museum utilizes state-of-the-art audiovisual systems, interactive displays and current museum expertise to appeal to every visitor. A children’s display views the war through eyes of animals, and many other themes are explored, including the role of women in the Great War, medical breakthroughs, and the involvement of the United States.
WHERE: Rue Lazare Ponticelli, 77100 Meaux, France
OPENING TIMES: May-Sept 9.30am-6.30pm Mon, Wed-Sun. Oct-Apr 10am-5.30pm Mon, Wed-Sun.
The Muckleburgh Military Collection is located in Weybourne, North Norfolk and is set in 300 acres overlooking the beautiful North Norfolk coast. Since the museum opened in 1988, the collection has grown, now comprising
25 working tanks and tracked vehicles with thousands of items on display. It is the official home of the historical records for the Norfolk and Suffolk Yeomanry and has a life-size display of Copenhagen, the Duke of Wellington’s horse. It can take around four hours to view all the displays in the museum, passing through the tank halls, artillery hall, diorama displays, vehicle rides,the shop, and the cafe with children’s play area. A tank-driving experience is also available to book in advance for £100. We also have our own landing field. Please view www.muckleburgh. co.uk for full details of what is available, opening times, and entrance charges.
WHERE: The Muckleburgh Military Collection, Weybourne, Norfolk, NR25 7EH
OPENING TIMES: 28 March – 3 November 2013 10.00 am – 5.00 pm with last Admissions at 4.00 pm
CONTACT: 01263 588210
One of the south coast’s most historic landmarks, discover over 200 years of history at this Napoleonic fortress. Built to defend the south coast from Napoleon’s forces, it still stands as a unique monument to that time and now houses the largest military collection of its kind in the south of England.
The Redoubt’s latest exhibition, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Button Maker, features military uniforms from 19th Century onwards, and focuses on the people that carefully crafted these magnificent examples of tailoring.
The fortress has an exciting programme of events for 2013, including military history lectures, film screenings, swing dances, and noonday cannon firing during the summer holidays. The Outpost café serves a delicious selection of pastries, cakes, and excellent coffee. Entry to the parade ground and battlements is free, with admission charged only inside the fortress and military exhibition. You also get a free return visit with each ticket!
WHERE: Redoubt Fortress & Military Museum, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN22 7AQ
OPENING TIMES: Open 7 days a week 9am – 5pm
CONTACT: 01323 410300
The museum is located in the fortifications that were built in 1874 to reinforce France’s costal defence. Bastion 32 served as the headquarters for the French and Allied forces during the Battle of Dunkirk and Operation dynamo. The Memorial Du Souvenir tells an incredible story of the battle and the evacuation of more than 338,000 allied soldiers from the pocket of Dunkirk.
The museum boasts a rich exhibition of maps and pictures, as well as both Allied and German military materiel. Scale models of the sites and of the operation, uniforms, and weapons complete the impressive collection.
Visiting the museum will also offer you the opportunity to see a 15-minute-long film using dramatic period footage. This film gives visitors an exciting overall view of the events which took place between May and June 1940.
WHERE: Courtines du Bastion 32, Rue des Chantiers de France, 59140 Dunkerque, A16 exit 60.
OPENING TIMES: 1 April – 30 September, 10am-12pm, 2pm-5pm
CONTACT: +33 (0)3 28262731
The AMS Museum tells the story of how the British Army has affected the history of medicine and health care since the English Civil Wars. It does this through the use of life-sized dioramas and displays featuring medical equipment, uniforms, badges and medals, and personal artefacts.
It houses an extensive archive and library featuring many important papers concerning the history of military medicine, nursing, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. There is also a display of 23 Victoria Crosses including a VC and Bar awarded to a military doctor.
WHERE: Keogh Barracks, Ash Vale, Aldershot GU12 5RQ
OPENING TIMES: 9:30am-3.30pm (Mon – Fri)
CONTACT: 01252 868612
War Games is an exhibition exploring the role of warfare in children’s play from 1800 to the present day. Showcasing over 100 objects from the museum’s collection, as well as important loans, it examines the effect of war and conflict on toys and games through four sections. Playing at War raises the topic of children re-enacting war through a display of historic dressing-up clothes, a range of toy weapons, and strategy games. On the Battlefield provides a chronological overview of combat, exploring how toys have imitated the changing technology of weaponry, new geographies of war zones, and the creation of new armies. Exhibits such as a 1920s German trench
and soldier set and a 2010 World Peacekeepers Black Hawk helicopter demonstrate the close relationship of toys and contemporary warfare. Reality to Fantasy looks at the change that came in the aftermath of the World Wars. The final section, Secret Weapons, reveals the use of toys in warfare – to train and influence, to comfort and heal, and to aid escape. It questions the role of war toys as tools of propaganda or patriotism, with games like the 1914 British puzzle Get Rid of the Huns.
V&A Museum of Childhood houses the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection of childhood-related objects and artefacts, spanning the 1600s to the present day.
WHERE: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
OPENING TIMES: 10am-5.45pm
CONTACT: 020 8983 5200
To see this feature as it appeared in issue 34 of Military History Monthly, click here.