On Friday 11 February 2022, the In Flanders Fields Museum Ieper presented its annual programme 2022 to the press. Special attention went to the opening of the exhibition 'Missing at the Front. Unearthing Names'.
This exhibition illustrates how archaeology gives missing soldiers back their identity. Furthermore, the large, thematic exhibition 'For Civilisation. The First World War in the Middle East. 1914-1923
' was announced. The dossier exhibitions, the artist in residence and the cultural programme of the museum were also discussed.
Unearthing Names: archaeology gives missing soldiers back their identity
Swallowed up by the mud, the remains of tens of thousands of missing soldiers still lie under Flemish fields. Thanks to archaeological and historical research, some of them are now getting their names and identities back. Arnout Hauben and battlefield archaeologist Simon Verdegem made a film for the exhibition and a campaign film that went online at the press conference.
"The men no longer fear death; we have made peace with the thought of our own demise. A much heavier burden is the fear of being forgotten on foreign soil." (From a letter by a German officer, 1917)
Dimitry Soenen, Alderman Museums: "With the large, thematic exhibition 'For Civilization. The First World War in the Middle East. 1914-1923’, the In Flanders Fields Museum transcends for the the first time the geographical boundaries of the First World War on the Western Front."
The First World War in the Middle East
Besides in Europe, war also broke out in the Middle East in 1914. The regime of the Young Turks at the time sided with Germany and so in 1918 belonged to the losing camp. The Ottoman Empire disintegrated and the borders were redrawn according to the interests of Britain and France. The Israeli-Palestinian question, the problems between Turkey and Armenia or the fate of the Kurds: anyone who wants to better understand the current sensitivities and power relations in the Middle East will gain insight into their wartime origins through this exhibition.
Stephen Lodewyck, director of the In Flanders Fields Museum: "Visitors are guided through the exhibition by hostess Layla El-Dekmak with an audio guide. Later on, a publication, an international conference and an educational programme on the theme will be linked to the expo. The exhibition will open on 12 March in the museum's Royal Hall."
Artist in residence and cultural programme
The Indian artist Baptist Coelho is this year's artist in residence. His installation will be on display from 1 July. The artistic reflection of an artist from the East is a valuable addition to the theme of the thematic exhibition.
The cultural programme will start on 24 February with the book presentation of 'The land between the languages. Reportages from Belgium'. This volume brings together Stefan Zweig's fascinating reportages and portraits of Ostend, Bruges, Liège, Leuven, Antwerp and Ypres, beautifully translated by Els Snick and beautifully illustrated by Koen Broucke. The afterword was written by Piet Chielens. Several other initiatives are planned throughout the year.
Music and War
Music and War' puts musical instruments from the First World War - whether or not made by the soldiers themselves - in the spotlight. Traces of music in personal diaries, the rich collection of scores and historical photographs from the museum's collection are given a special place.
Feuilles de Poilus
With the fall of the leaves on 21 September 2022, the museum pays attention to leaves from the First World War. Dried leaves that were transformed into very delicate works of art by French soldiers using needles. Because of their fragility, this is rare trench art, but thanks to a French private collector, the museum can present a wide selection.
Visitor numbers in 2022
In 2021 the In Flanders Fields Museum had 91,669 visitors. This is over 55% more than in 2020 and exceeds the number of visitors of many other large Flemish museums.
In 2022 the aim is to increase the number of visitors even further. In any case, the expectations are more optimistic than in 2021. Bookings from Flemish and Dutch schools are already coming in quickly for the second half of March. The first bookings from British schools have also already been registered.
You can always consult the full programme on https://www.inflandersfields.be/en/program