'Living Museum' To Help Commemorate End Of WW2

By Richard Moss | 31 May 2005
Shows a photograph of three WWII veterans standing outside the Imperial War Museum in London.

Veterans Mr Blake, Harry Verlander, Reginald Maurice Rowbotham outside the Imperial War Museum in London for the launch of the Their Past Your Future Initiative.

Defence Secretary John Reed has announced a range of events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War including a ‘Living Museum’ in St James’s Park.

The temporary museum is part of a series of free activities, including flypasts and commemoration services, marking Veteran’s Awareness Week which stretches from July 4 to the National Commemoration Day of July 10, 2005.

“HRH the Prince of Wales will open the Living Museum on July 4, which will host many school visits during the week,” confirmed Mr Reed during a launch at the Cabinet War Rooms on May 25. “That evening will see the first projection of a series of Second World War images in the front of Buckingham Palace.”

Part temporary exhibition, part interactive educational facility and part live re-enactment – the museum will offer the public the opportunity to see highlights from many of the nation’s major wartime collections simultaneously.

Shows a war veteran, dressed in his military uniform - a red trenchcoat, talking to a girl in school uniform. He is sat on the edge of a tank at the Imperial War Museum.

Museums across the UK have been involved in special exhibitions commemorating 60 years since the end of the Second World War. Photo by David Devins © NewsCast

At least 28 museums and organisations will take part in the museum, which will occupy 25,000 square metres of the park, allowing visitors the opportunity to learn about the experience of the war generation first hand.

Living history and re-enactments will combine with hands on displays to give people a glimpse of wartime life, both military and domestic, from air raids to black outs through to gas mask training and code cracking.

More than 200 people including veterans, curators and enthusiastic amateur historians will be on hand to answer questions about life during World War Two. Visitors will also be able to bring in WW2 objects (excluding weapons and ammunition) for experts to identify.

“I hope that this year’s events will encourage people to discuss their own experience and pass on their family’s war story to future generations giving them the opportunity to keep these memories alive,” added Mr Reed.

Shows a photograph of a hand holding a remembrance poppy. Out of focus and in the background there are a number of poppies in a box.

The Living Museum will be accompanied by a series of remembrance events both in the capital and throughout the UK. Picture courtesy The Royal British Legion.

An Exhibition of World War 2 Art featuring bronzes, silverware and items of historic interest not usually available for public viewing will also be displayed in The Banqueting House in nearby Whitehall.

Items in the exhibition are to be sourced from within Ministry of Defence and military establishments across the country. Open to the general public from July 8 through to August 8, entrance is free.

The Living Museum opening hours at St James’s Park, London, SW1 will be:
Monday 4th July 14.00 – 20.00 (last entrance 19.00)
Tuesday 5th –Friday 8th 12.00 – 20.00 (last entrance 19.00)
Saturday 9th 11.00 – 20.00 (last entrance 19.00)
Sunday 10th 09.00 – 14.00

Pre-booked groups can benefit from early opening hours from 11.00 Tuesday – Friday. For more information about group bookings phone 0207 218 5639 and 0207 807 8935.

For more information about VE day celebrations in the capital and other parts of the UK visit the Veteran's Awareness Week website

Visit the main 24 Hour Museum VE Day index page to find out about Their Past Your Future Events and to explore World War Two-related resources - including trails, features, news and reviews.

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