National Army Museum to share collections and expertise in ambitious First World War Centenary programme

By Richard Moss | 14 August 2013

The National Army Museum (NAM) has announced plans to mark the centenary of the First World War with an expansive programme of activities that will take its collections, knowledge and expertise off-site across the UK.


a photogragh of steel helmeted British soldiers crouching in a trench
British raiding party await the word to go.© Courtesy NAM
With NAM’s Director General, Janice Murray, promising to “fully exert” the museum’s remarkable collection to communicate “the full impact of this global war”, the first phase of the ambitious three part programme will take place between 2014 and 2015, focussing on the outbreak of war and mobilisation.

Exploring the war’s early days and the way in which the British Army was prepared, mobilised and recruited from across the globe and the Commonwealth, six temporary exhibitions are being developed in partnership with regional regimental museums as well as corps and regimental partners.

Displayed in six locations across the country, the displays will feature locally relevant objects ranging from uniforms and weapons, to posters, photographs and letters.

In Kent a further special exhibition will be developed in conjunction with the Step Short project and Folkestone Town Council looking at the mobilisation of Kitchener’s Army of volunteers in 1914 and the role of Folkestone as the main embarkation point for troops from 1915.

A middle phase between 2016 and 2017 will explore the experience of the war via an exciting range of new displays and galleries at NAM, together with a series of public events looking at the human experiences of soldiers during the war with the focus on specific stories from the central battles including the Somme and Passchendaele.

As the centenary commemorations draw to a close in 2018 a final phase will include a major retrospective exhibition exploring the long-term effects of the conflict on Britain and its colonies and how the war has been remembered and memorialised in the hundred years since 1918.

The four year plan, which includes the digitisation of thousands of objects and archives in the NAM collection and a new range of interactive digital resources and education activities, will also see the museum’s Outreach and Learning teams travel across Britain to offer associated learning programmes and resources. A series of learning sessions for schools will also support the National Theatre’s touring production of War Horse.

“The First World War centenary offers an important opportunity for the nation to reflect and recognise this seminal moment in British history,” added Murray. “The planned programme of activities explores this national story, using original artefacts to tell the courageous and crushing stories of soldiers and their loved ones who lived and died during the conflict.”

The museum’s First World War plans are part of its Building for the Future project, which will radically transform the Museum building and kick-start an extensive programme of community projects, nationwide tours and travelling exhibitions, together with Regimental Museum collaborations, loans and expert support. The project has received initial support towards its £11.3m Heritage Lottery Fund bid, including, £350,000 development funding.

National Army Museum is part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, see www.1914.org.uk for more information.

More pictures from National Army Museum archives:

a photo of wounded soldiers walking along a dirt track
British wounded and a German prisoner.© Courtesy NAM
a photo of British soldiers jumping across a trench
Troops in training jumping over trench.© Courtesy NAM
a photograph of a soldier manning a trench parapet while his comrades sleep
Men of the 11th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment, man a trench near La Boisselle© Courtesy NAM
a photo of soldiers marching across a train station
Soldiers marching through Birmingham train station, 1914© Courtesy NAM
a photo of soldiers waving from the carriage of a train
British troops arriving in France by train, 1914© Courtesy NAM
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