RAF Museum asks public to choose objects for its World War One centenary exhibition

By Culture24 Reporter | 16 November 2012 | Updated: 16 November 2102
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a drawing of a WWI serviceman with head bandaged
Concert programme in aid of the RAF Prisoners of War Fund© RAF Museum
The 2014 centenary of the beginning of the First World War is already high on the agenda of UK museums and heritage organisations who are planning a multitude of exhibitions, event programmes and responses to the conflict.

But at the Royal Air Force Museum, which holds a stunning collection of aircraft, objects, archives and ephemera relating to the first air war and the birth of the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF, organisers are tapping into the great public interest in the Great War to help them form their major commemorative exhibition. 

The Hendon museum, which holds the most comprehensive collection of aircraft from the period anywhere in the world, is asking members of the public to choose objects from its archives that they would like to see displayed in a narrative driven trail as part of a new permanent exhibition explaining the role of aviation during World War One.

Curators have picked out 100 items ranging from Sopwith Camel rudders, captured German aircraft and to The “Red Baron” Von Richtoffen’s flying helmet, to camouflaged rudders, incendiary bombs, photographs, ephemera, personal trinkets and lucky charms.

a poster identifying World War One period British and German warplanes and airships
A poster identiying German and British airships and aeroplanes for the benefit of the British public. Zeppelin raids became prevalant as the war progressed.© RAF Museum
Each object has been specifically selected to tell a story about the experiences of the men and women, at home and overseas, who lived, fought, worked and died during the cataclysmic period of the 1914-18 war.

“The Royal Air Force Museum is justifiably proud of its First World War collection,” says Museum Director General Peter Dye.

“Over the past four years we have been developing plans and acquiring objects to form the first comprehensive exhibition on the role of aviation, and the impact on those thousands of individuals who flew in or supported the air services – at home and overseas – during this momentous period.

“To help us in our aim of making all the Museum’s exhibitions as accessible as possible, we would like to invite the public – our future visitors – to tell us which objects and their stories inspire them, and those that they would like to hear more about”

The museum, which has been engaging audiences for some time by sharing its archive of First World War photographs on Flickr, is also hoping  people will provide their own stories through letters, photographs and artefacts left by relatives who served in the Royal Air Force, or supported its efforts, during the First World War.

To view the Flickr and Pinterest streams, visit www.rafmuseum.org and click on the picture links located at the bottom of any page of the website.

a photograph of a model of a Jack Russel terrior wearing a jackert with RFC wings sewn onto it
Dog jacket was worn by a Yorkshire terrier belonging to an officer of the Royal Flying Corps who had an RFC tailor make it© RAF Museum
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