a witnessing landscape
the Ypres Salient 1915 - 1917
During the Second Battle of Ypres the allied lines shrank to a difficult to defend bulge around the city. In the military dictionary this was called a Salient. However, this technical term became a synonym for the single, notorious front line at Ypres. All seemed calm on this part of the Western Front until the Third Battle, yet between the two battles some 70,000 died.
In the observation balloon's hemisphere, you explore the landscape of the Ypres Salient, and discover how it still holds the war today. The film shows trackers, digging in the earth, or flying high above it. But also people who live here, talk about how they discovered the war at home. And visitors, about how they follow the footsteps of their ancestors here. For all of them, the landscape of the Ypres Salient leads with great detail to the then people.
By the end of the war, the whole region had become and was considered the Devastated Region. From Nieuwpoort to the French border at Armentières, an area of almost a 1000 km² had been destroyed.
A display interactively layers historic aerial photos all over West Flanders, to depict this complete destruction place by place. Two other screens show the complex footprint of the war in the landscape and identify the traces that still can be found more than a hundred years later.
guide to the Westhoek
All along the displayed phases and themes of the war, the exhibition sets out signposts to a number of striking or significant places outside the museum. Small side-away panels inform you about relics and monuments, from the Ganzenpoot in Nieuwpoort to the Mine craters of Wijtschate and Messines.
A full showcase is dedicated to the archaeological excavation of the British deep dugout Yorkshire Trench. The presentation includes a scaled model of the underground infrastructure, aiming to refer to the godforsaken place itself, today, in the middle of the Ypres industrial area.
after your visit: into the area
After your visit, you could enhance the experience by going out into the Ypres area. Young trees remind of the old front lines, while entry points, walking and cycling routes and apps help you to read the present-day landscape.