RAF Museum to open First World War in the Air permanent exhibition in December 2014

By Culture24 Reporter | 09 April 2014

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant means the RAF Museum in London will open its eagerly-awaited First World exhibition in December 2014

an architect's mock up drawing of an exhibition space with aircraft and displays
The new First World War In The Air exhibition will open at the RAF Museum in London in December 2014© Courtesy RAF Museum
One of the most significant new museum exhibitions marking the Centenary of the First World War, the RAF Museum’s The First World War in the Air, came closer to fruition today.

A confirmed grant of £898,558 from the Heritage Lottery Fund will see the project begin at the museum's Cosford and London homes, together with an ambitious programme of education programmes, volunteering, apprenticeships, public events and online resources.

The project will explore the earliest days of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. At the London site in Hendon, a brand new permanent exhibition will open in December 2014 in the museum’s historic Grahame-White Factory, the Grade II-listed building which was an active aircraft factory during the First World War.

Unused spaces, including a "drawing office" equipped with sketching tools, open drawers filled with facsimiles of original technical drawings and aviation-related publications, will give visitors a "balcony view" of the aircraft and hangar, which will become the new home for the Museum’s unparalleled collection of First World War aircraft.

The museum is also promising to incorporate the experiences of pilots, ground crews and factory workers as well as the local North London community.

The Museum’s Director, Peter Dye, said the project is “of particular significance" due to the "related heritage" of the RAF Museum London.

“An active airfield and aircraft factory throughout the war, it embraces the birth of the Royal Air Force, built on the achievements of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service," he explained.

Dye also singled out the museum’s online campaign to encourage the public to choose some of the exhibits in the new exhibition.

"As well as being a national story, the project will help the local community to understand how much their neighbourhood changed as a result of aviation and the long-term impact on their lives," he predicted.

At the museum’s Shropshire site in Cosford, in the West Midlands, an exhibition telling the national story of the First War in the Air will use interpretation, displays and aircraft enriched by individual stories of pilots such as heroic local pilot Lieutenant Kevin Furniss, who was posted to France in April 1917.

Shot down on his second mission, he died as a Prisoner of War on April 29 1917, aged 19. He was born and bought up in Trysull, a village on the outskirts of Wolverhampton and attended Wolverhampton Grammar School.

The museum will be using his story and artefacts during sessions with schools and informal learning activities.

  • Find out more about the First World War Centenary at www.1914.org.

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