Hundreds of objects give shape to the machinery of warfare, in the air, on the battlefield or underground.
The cabinets in front of an imposing gun show countless small but deadly projectiles, found on the former battlefields. Destruction and death from a (far away) distance, determined the impersonal character of war. Machine guns, too, made infantry raids a hopeless job to carry out. Nevertheless, all sorts of handweapons and tools always remained part of trench wars dailyness.
Communication, observation, aerial photography and cartography were of great importance in directing warfare. The exhibition shows the particular instruments used for these purposes.
Eight showcases document aspects outside the immediate sights of warfare. For refugees, passage and identity papers were of vital importance. From the rubble of Ypres, many a soldier took souvenirs that only returned home decades later. As the war went on, more and better medical care resulted in new instruments and technics. All kinds of small objects made during captivity bear witness to life in the prisoner of war camps, while a rest period behind the front was characterised by its own activities and the objects that went with these.
The thematic showcases make grateful use of the museum reserves or donations, so these thematic displays can change throughout the year.
soldiers as fighting machines
The uniforms in the museum are not costumes, but real pieces from over a century ago. Together with the accompanying equipment, they show what it was like to be a soldier. All things a military man carried with him made him a complete fighting machine.
In 2021, an Australian and Belgian uniform could be added to the British, German, French and Canadian ensembles. The former belongs to a soldier who fought in Gallipoli before coming to Ypres. The Belgian was worn by Lieutenant Edgard Saey and shows the marks of the wound that put him out of action during the liberation offensive.
from treasure chests to personal cabinets
In stark contrast to the inhuman machinery of war, there are eleven personal cabinets scattered around the museum. They show as many small collections of personal belongings of different victims. For years, these were cherished as relics by relatives before they were entrusted to the museum.