IFFM 2021 – upgrade
This spring, the In Flanders Fields Museum presents a large number of innovations in the permanent exhibition. When many thousands of visitors from Belgium and abroad will find their way back to Ypres, they will be able to visit an even more attractive museum thanks to an investment of 400,000 euros.
Three audio guide tours
From now on, you can also visit the museum with audio guide. Visitor research has shown that there is an increasing demand for audio guidance. The museum is responding to this demand with a three-part audio tour, which can be used interchangeably.
The numbered basic tour
takes you through the entire museum in less than an hour. Very convenient for those who, often in the context of group visits, do not have that much time. But then, of course, you miss all the films (see below) and dozens of very special objects.
For 31 objects and themes, an in-depth tour
was elaborated. Specialists from Belgium and abroad, including many well-known historians such as Bruno De Wever and Sophie De Schaepdrijver from Belgium, or Jay Winter (USA, F), Stefan Goebel (D), Mark Connelly (UK) or Leo van Bergen (Nl), to name but a few, as well as our own staff from the research centre, provide additional information.
A tour has also been developed for children. The children's tour
was written by Flemish illustrator and youth author Gerda Dendooven in cooperation with the museum's educational team.
Two completely new films were made for this upgrade while two existing films are now also included in the permanent exhibition.
In The Landscape of the Ypres Salient
we look at the landscape of today, but there we look for traces of the past. Thus, this landscape brings us with great detail to the people of the war era. In the film we meet the archaeologists and observers from the air, but also people who live here and discover the war 'at home', as well as people who are visiting here, to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors who were here during the war, and sometimes stayed behind.
The film is shown simultaneously in four languages. The language change is incorporated into a stand equipped with listening horns. The language of your choice is selected via the poppy bracelet. Due to corona measures, the stand is currently not accessible.
In the 1918 section we are showing a new film about the German Spring Offensive
that brought the trenches within 2.5 km of Ypres’ city centre. The film meticulously plots the military events between 9 April and early June 1918 both on the calendar and in the landscape. It is based on the analysis of aerial photography and on the casualty lists from the List of Names. For the film, we were able to draw on many photos and documents from the museum’s collection in addition to those from other museums, as well as films from NARA (Washington) and the Bundesarchiv (Berlin). Finally, the suffering of the civilian population during these battles is also discussed.
Also in the same 1918 section, we show the film about The Last Hundred Days, which was made following the same principles in 2018 for the temporary exhibition To End All Wars.
A fourth film is about John McCrae's In Flanders Fields
, after which the museum was named. The Canadian doctor Lt.-Col. John McCrae wrote it in early May 1915 near Essex Farm Cemetery. A film and a new graphic give a modern interpretation of the most famous poem of the First World War in Flanders.
The fighting machines: two 'new' uniforms and equipment
The uniforms in the IFF Museum are not costumes, but real museum pieces, more than a century old. They are real uniforms that were worn in the war, sometimes we even know by whom.
Philippe Oosterlinck, our former colleague and probably the most important WWI collector in Belgium, lends us an Australian uniform, worn by a soldier who fought in Gallipoli before he came to France and Belgium. The Belgian uniform and equipment was worn by Lieutenant Edgard Saey during the Final Advance in Flanders. On the tunic we can even see the marks of the wound that put him out of action.
At the end of the war, more than half a million victims had perished on the battlefields around Ypres. At tables in more than one hundred countries (and 25 home countries and dependencies) around the world, they left as many empty spaces. In 2018, more than 110 chairs from all these countries were sent to the museum to form an impressive installation at Armistice Day.
The story of this special way of remembering is told in an display of three chairs at the end of the museum. A new trio of chairs is exhibited three times a year.
The chairs are accompanied by the story of the country they came from and the victims who fell in Belgium. The visitor can read this on a touch screen, not only for the three selected chairs, but for all the chairs that we already have in the collection. And for the fifteen or so chairs that are still missing, we are making a warm appeal to the public.
For more information: www.inflandersfields.be