York Museums Trust will open a far-reaching World War I exhibition a century after the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
A century to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination – the act widely seen as sparking a grim chain of events sparking the First World War – York Castle Museum will reveal its contribution to the centenary programme on a suite of new galleries on the venue’s ground floor.
© Courtesy York Museums Trust
There will be an undercurrent of experiential trepidation to the costume and social history-led exhibition, where visitors will enlist at a recruitment office, have their height, weight and eyesight checked, join a regiment and travel to the front in a replica train carriage, leading to the rats, foot rot, shells and gas warfare of the trenches.
It begins in the Belle Époque – an age of peace and prosperity preceding the conflict, when pacts were agreed and treaties sealed in sometimes-unwitting precursors to war.
“The war’s legacy created new opportunities as well as threats and the world map changed forever as new countries were born while empires crumbled,” says Andrew Morrison, the head curator at York Museums Trust, calling the exhibition a “more rounded” and “reflective” look at how “culture and society’s values were revolutionised.”
“It was the first global war and touched the lives of those far from the front lines of battle as people back home were forced to adapt their lives to help their country or the Empire they were part of.”
Morrison takes a determinedly global view. Soldiers from Japan, Cuba, India and other countries across the world are represented, with themes ranging from animals and tank warfare to communications and medical techniques, as well as the lasting legacy and impact of the war.
Improved accessibility, new learning spaces and provision for more than 500 volunteers during the next five years have also been created as part of the project, largely funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £1.2 million.
- 1914: When the World Changed Forever opens on June 28 2014.
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