The continuing conflict in Afghanistan brings a contemporary resonance to this week’s Remembrance activities, but 2010 also marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and the 65th anniversary of VE and VJ Day.
© National Army Museum
As a result, museums and heritage sites across the UK are responding with a range of special events, exhibitions and unveilings to explore the varied meanings of Remembrance in 2010.
Back in 2009, 90 years on from the first Remembrance Day on November 11 1919, ceremonies around the UK were brought into focus by the death of the last surviving World War I veterans, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch.
This year two museums have unveiled recently acquired portraits of the iconic veterans in time for Remembrance Day.
© Bath Museums
Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery has acquired the last portrait of Harry Patch by Dan Llewelyn Hall, which it has hung in its galleries in time for Remembrance Sunday.
The Royal Collection is also displaying studies of Patch and Allingham by the same artist in the Drawing Galleries of Windsor Castle (until February 6 2011). The sketches are joined by a large print of the poem Last Post by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, which was presented to the Queen last year.
In terms of artworks, perhaps one of the most dramatic to be unveiled in time for Remembrance Day is Jerry Judah’s THE CRUSADER at Imperial War Museum North. A striking new sculptural crucifix measuring seven metres across and adorned with models of shattered buildings, the suspended artwork now welcomes visitors to the Salford museum's main exhibition Hall.
Made in response to recent conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Judah says his sculpture “explores the violence of conflict against a perceived righteousness of purpose.” Food for thought during the raft of Remembrance Day events at Imperial War Museum’s outposts (see www.iwm.org.uk for more details).
© Gerry Judah
In London the Imperial War Museum is unveiling its first gallery in ten years this weekend with the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, which showcases an unparalleled collection of Victoria Crosses and George Crosses. This being the IWM, the stories of the men and women who were awarded these decorations for valour are brought to the fore and make for sobering reading.
Another remarkable collection of VCs is unveiled this week at the Royal Engineers Museum whose new permanent exhibition, Valour (opening on November 12) displays the 25 Victoria Crosses held by the museum.
For the first time the public will be able to see photographs, personal items and weaponry owned by VC recipients. A Remembrance book in the Medals Room will allow people to record their memories of family members who have served in the armed forces.
Remembrance Sunday will be observed at the National Army Museum with a range of activities for younger visitors but all are invited to commemorate and explore the shifting representation and attitudes towards war in their acclaimed Conflicts of Interest Gallery.
© National Army Museum
A series of talks and events accompanies a thoughtful Remembrance programme at the museum which, in the words of its Director Janice Murray, is “ensuring new generations can learn, challenge and appreciate the true impact of war and the great sacrifices it incites.”
At the Fusilier Museum in Bury, Remembrance Day has been marked with a weeklong programme of activities to remember, educate and commemorate. Local schools have attended workshops to learn more about why and how we remember and on Thursday, the town’s Gallipoli Gardens will host a special Remembrance Service (10.45am), attended by representatives from the Royal Fusilier Regiment and Fusilier Museum.
The Royal Armouries in Leeds’ traditional Remembrance Service takes place on Thursday November 11 and is supported with an ambitious series of events called “Remember, Reflect, React”, together with a new exhibit and a play exploring the true story of Great War soldier Jack Adam and his wife, Gert, and Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun.
The new exhibit is a stunning group of 95 hand-carved wooden panels made by the West Riding Woodcarvers Association commemorating the horror, suffering, courage and human spirit of those who took part in the two World Wars.
© Royal Armouries
Hull's Museums Quarter is the setting for a Remembrance weekend with re-enactors and costumed interpreters commemorating WWII, and the Yorkshire Air Museum hosts a Remembrance service in the chapel on Sunday November 14.
Museums across Portsmouth are marking Remembrance Day with a number of free events, talks and services. The D-Day Museum has free entry on Sunday together with an illustrated talk by Hugh McManners called Gulf War One: Real Voices from the Frontline.
The nearby Royal Marines Museum also has a Remembrance service on Sunday and on the same day at Fort Nelson free entry includes the chance the to see an original 18-pounder field gun fired in salute to the fallen of World War I.
Culture24’s recommended Remembrance Teachers Resources
National Archives Voices of the Armistice