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The New Thiepval Museum, dedicated to the Battles of the Somme

Opening of the Thiepval Museum
Laurent Somon, president of the Somme Departmental Council and Jean-Marc Todeschini, Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance open the new Thiepval Museum, with the director of the Mission du Centenaire, MPs of the Somme, the prefet of the Somme, the president and the director of the Historial, the mayor of Thiepval and German historian Gerd Krumeich, vice president of the Historial's International Research Centre.
Laurent Somon, Président du Conseil départemental de la Somme, et Jean-Marc Todeschini, secrétaire d'Etat à la mémoire et aux anciens combattants, ont inauguré le 2 juin 2016 le musée de Thiepval, entourés du directeur de la Mission du centenaire, de parlementaires de la Somme, du Préfet de la Somme, de la présidente et du directeur de l'Historial de Péronne, du maire de Thiepval, et de l'historien allemand Gerd Krumeich, vice-président du Centre de recherche de l'Historial.
Crédit - Yazid Medmoun - Cd80 - See more at: http://www.somme14-18.com/extension-thiepval#sthash.3zXKEC4N.dpuf

The new Thiepval '14-18 Battles of the Somme' Museum was inaugurated on 2 June 2016 in the presence of Jean-Marc Todeschini, Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance and Laurent Somon, president of the Somme Departmental Council.

For the commemorations of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Somme Departmental Council wished to provide visitors to the Somme Battlefields with better facilities and thus a new museum dedicated to the battles of the Somme and the Missing was created.

Managed by the Historial, Museum of the Great War, the new museum has been built into the Thiepval Visitor and Interpretation Centre. At the very heart of the battlefields, the exhibition studies the history of the many battles of the Somme, paying particular attention to the most deadly battle of all - the one of 1916.

A permanent exhibition of approximately 400m2 displays artefacts, archaeological finds, multimedia displays and life-size installations (replica of Charles Guynemer's plane) and the 60 metre long mural illustrated by Joe Sacco opens an imaginary window onto the 1st July battlefield.

The museum uses very modern and innovative displays:  large-scale installations, multimedia and sound displays, an archaeological approach in accordance to the remembrance aspect of the site... providing visitors with a unique and moving experience.

At the heart of the Somme Battlefields, the Historial, Museum of the Great War now presents in its two museums of Péronne and Thiepval the First World War in its full magnitude.

Introduction: the Battles of the Somme (1914-1918)

At the entrance to the new museum a large animated map with period photographs and film  presents the impact of WW1 fighting in the Somme.

This large scale projection shows the evolution of the front line between 1914 and 1918. It also reveals the scale of the destruction and human loss.

The Battle of the Somme: the Offensive of the Summer of 1916

One of the most deadly battles of the Great War, the Battle of the Somme has become synonymous of the First World War to the British. The 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, was the worst day in British military history: 20,000 soldiers died in just a few hours, decimated by German machine gun fire.

The gallery dedicated to the Battle of the Somme opens upon an exceptional panoramic mural by illustrator Joe Sacco, which details this terrible day of the 1 July 1916, hour by hour.

Printed onto 60 metres of back-lit glass, it provides a panoramic view of the battlefield, a visual account of military operations.

 

Maxim Machine Gun
The Maxim machine gun captured by the British at Thiepval

At the centre of the gallery, a unique exhibition to be found just under the surface of the floor, displays artefacts and archaeological finds. Short animations provide complementary information to better understand the mural with information about the scenes portrayed, the historical context, archive footage and explanations.

At the far end of the gallery, a Maxim machine gun captured at Thiepval by a British regiment recalls how strongly this area was defended by the Germans and that Thiepval ridge was an Allied objective from the very beginning of the offensive. It was not captured until the end of September 1916.

The Germans on the Somme

An audiovisual installation combined with a selection of German photographs and film footage reveals the experience of the German soldiers, who had taken up position in the Somme from 1914. Several themes are developed including the arrival of the Germans in the Somme, daily life during the occupation, the defence of a border formed by war, preparations for the Battle of the Somme, the retreat and remembrance.

 


The French and the Battles of the Somme

During the Great War, the East of the Somme was cut from north to south by the front line, stabilised in 1915 and 1916. The civilian populations were to experience a long period of occupation. Homes were destroyed by not only the enemy's artillery but also that of the Allies; French soldiers often found themselves destroying their own homes and villages. By the end of the conflict everything had to be rebuilt.

The French perspective, both civilian and military, is presented on a large map of the area, showing the destruction and the lasting impact the war had on the Somme.

Potraits of Missing
On of the museum's hall is devoted to the memory of the Missing

The Battles of the Somme, Grief and Mourning

A private, intimate hall is devoted to the memory of the tens of thousands of soldiers who went Missing, to whom the Thiepval Memorial pays homage.

An innovative multimedia display captures in an interactive fashion the individual stories of these lost soldiers. On the walls, the cabinets display symbolic artefacts (family keepsakes of letters, official documents, personal effects) which illustrate the loss, the family's grief and national mourning.

 


Heroic Figures: the Aces of Aviation

Opposing the 'mass' of Missing, the museum presents how heroic figures were created through the flying aces. A large hall presents a life-size model of Georges Guynemer's plane and the portraits of First World War airmen.

From 1916, the role of aviation in the Great War affirmed itself and encouraged the advent of great heroic figures - the knights of the skies.

European Memory

 The museum's exhibition ends by positioning the Somme at a crossroads between nations and European memory. Aerial footage of the battlefields reveals the scars that can still be seen on the landscapes, the diversity and the importance of the sites of remembrance erected on the battleground including cemeteries, monuments and memorials.

Useful Information

The Visitor Centre and Museum are open every day from 9.30am to 6pm from 1/03 to 31/10 (9.30am to 5pm for rest of year)
Annual closing from mid-December to mid-January
Admission is free to the visitor centre, a ticket must be purchased for the museum: Adults 6€ and children 3€
Combined ticket for the 'Museums of Péronne & Thiepval':  Adults 10€ and children 6€
Free access to the memorial all year round
Car park, picnic area, book and gift shop
80300 Thiepval
Tel +33 (0) 3 22 74 60 47
thiepval@historial.org

 

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