I’ve been out of the #FriFotos loop for the last few weeks with being on the road, but we’re back today and it’s really the most perfect theme. I’m currently studying for the Masters in Museum Studies so the topic of museums couldn’t really be much better for me. On top of that, we spent much of our time on our trip to Europe wandering through museums so I have no shortage of photos.
Before leaving Bruges on the last full day of our trip we decided to make a detour and stop in Ypres, Belgium, home to the newly reopened In Flanders Fields Museum. Every child in Canada learns the poem written by John McCrae for Remembrance Day and we thought it would be a waste to not visit the site when we were so close.
The museum is housed in the Cloth Hall in the centre of Ypres, a building which dominates the beautiful small town. It is astonishing to learn that the entire city of Ypres was all but flattened over the course of WWI, so all that one sees today was rebuilt from 1920 onwards. The Cloth Hall, which was originally built in the 13th century, was meticulous recreated following WWI, taking over thirty years to complete.
For those of you not up on your WWI history (like me), I would suggest reading the account of Ypres’ involvement here.
This isn’t a museum about the great glory of war. Here you will not find stories of heroics, but of the futility of war – the millions of young lives lost, the time wasted, the irreparable damage inflicted on lives and lands. In the Ypres Salient, the location of the most heated battles of the First World War, bodies and bombs still rise to the surface of the earth today.
It is impossible not to be moved by the stories that are told at the museum, especially those told through the videos like the one above. They are amazingly well done and every one kept me riveted. Although they are recreations they make you feel as though you are getting a first hand account from the local people and soldiers who were witnesses to the horrors of 1914-1918.
There is an overwhelming amount of information presented in the museum, from historical accounts, artefacts, videos, photographs, and re-creations. It isn’t really a museum for children, with a large amount of written material and a number of quite disturbing photographs presented. That being said, it is the type of war museum that older children, particularly weapon obsessed little boys, could benefit from visiting, hopefully presenting them with examples of the horrors that such weapons can inflict.
Entrance to the museum is €8 for adults (only €1 for 7-25 year olds) and an extra €2 gives you access to the bell tower, which offers amazing views across the city and the countryside. The 264 stairs up are a bit of a slog but the view is well worth it and allows you to have a guilt free Belgian waffle afterwards.
11 June > 15 November daily from 10 am to 6 pm
16 November > 31 March 2013 from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm