Remembrance 2012: Remembering the wars at museums, heritage sites and online

By Culture24 Reporter | 09 November 2012
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A photo of a young girl taking a close look at a red plastic poppy inside a museum
Remembrance at the Imperial War Museum London© IWM London
Remembrance Day, which takes place this weekend, sees museums and heritage sites across the country hosting events and exhibitions commemorating war and conflict and the people involved with them.

Services include the Bovington Garrison’s event at The Tank Museum in Dorset, where a wreath will be laid at the Royal Armoured Corps Memorial outside, and a gathering at the Black Country Living Museum's Springfield Brewery war memorial.

In Hangar 1 at the RAF Museum Cosford, a two-minute silence will be followed by a rendition of The Last Post, as well as readings by Wing Commander Niall Griffiths and Dave Leek, the Chairman of the Aerospace Museum Society.

“Visitors can pause to reflect on the sacrifices made by our brave service men and women,” says the museum’s Nina Mitchell.

“They will be able to view our Remembrance Book, which lists the names of RAF Aircrew who lost their lives during the Battle of Britain in 1940.”

HMS Cavalier, the National Destroyer Memorial and bronze monument, will be the centre of the Remembrance Sunday service at Chatham Historic Dockyard, paying particular tribute to the 142 Royal Navy destroyers sunk during the Second World War, taking more than 11,000 men with them.

The Imperial War Museum London will also sound The Last Post, courtesy of the Band of her Majesty’s Royal Marines, in a ceremony concluding with a short recital on a violin made from sycamore and pine trees grown in the former battlefields on the Western Front.

The IWM Duxford will offer free admission all day on Sunday, as will the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth. And in a performance of notable rarity at the IWM North, Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor, a piece of music composed by A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess while he was on active service in Gibraltar but lost for decades until it resurfaced in 2011, will receive its first major public performance.

Other exhibitions and tours at the Manchester venue include an immersive Big Picture Show looking at the origins of Remembrance and a storytelling walk around the spaces to discover artefacts such as the field gun responsible for firing the army’s first shell of World War I.

Elsewhere around the country, Norwich Castle will turn its ancient walls red with special filters echoing the colours of the poppy. The Royal British Legion suggested the idea, having raised more than £638,000 in Norfolk last year.

“The Legion spends about £1.7 million every week assisting veterans,” explains Chairman Bill Kerr. “So you can see how important the Poppy Appeal is, as it raises nearly half of our requirement.

“We hope that turning the Castle red for Remembrance Day will help us to bring home the needs of armed forces and veterans.”

The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum is equally eye-catching – volunteer Lavinia Drake decided to adorn the building in crafted poppies.

“She contacted all the local knitting groups, who produced 1,200 knitted and crochet poppies,” says George Streatfield, of the museum.

“We have her to thank for all the positive reactions we have had from the public. We have involved an audience that would otherwise be unlikely to be interested in the museum.”

The Streetlife Museum, in Hull, will welcome live music, re-enactors, craft activities and facepainting for children and more throughout the weekend. And the Reading Museum has called on the public to contribute pictures and stories for a new exhibition to coincide with the centenary of the First World War in 2014 – see to add your pictures and stories.

The Museum of London's online exhibition, Remembering the Blitz, also recalls the spirit of London during the gloomiest days of the Second World War.

The Royal Armouries, in Leeds, has just opened Other Ranks, a work by sound artist Amie Slavin which uses 16 speakers to broadcast the sound of drills, weapon handling, assault courses and urban warfare, underscored by an endless parade of marching feet. Small lanterns illuminate the floor.

“I’ve been on four different Army camps and visited a TA veterans’ group,” says the renowned blind artist.

“I’ve recorded in the street, in fields, backrooms and a mocked-up Afghan war zone. Some guys will talk about almost anything and are eager to do so.

"Others are wary of speaking out of turn or of causing me distress with what they say. I hope to make my audience laugh, cry and think – through their ears, so to speak.”
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