Last weekend my mum and I flew down to Melbourne (from Sydney) SPECIFICALLY to go to the World War One Centenary Exhibition at Melbourne Museum. We’re both pretty interested in the history of the war, and I am constantly reading books set around that time. I don’t go out of my way to read them, they just always end up in my hands. So when I saw this exhibition was happening, I knew I had to go.
The exhibition is made up of 350 artefacts, which have been sent to Australia from the Imperial War Museums in London. The artefacts themselves range from huge guns right down to the personal effects of some soldiers.
We took about 90 minutes wandering through the exhibition, which took us right through the war from the day it began, to the day it finished, and all the heartbreak in between. There were also sections that focused on the battles in the air, as well as on and under the sea. Some interesting items relating to these were the the rotary engine from the plane of the German flying ace, Baron von Richthofen – aka The Red Baron; and the bell of the RMS Lusitania, a passenger ship sunk in 1915 by a German U-Boat resulting in a massive loss of civilian life. This incident is cited as a turning point in the war, often pin pointed as a major reason the United States entered the war (although they would not officially enter the war for another two years).
It was strange and moving to see these items, many of which belonged to men who had died on the battle field. Some of them had even been in the possession of the men when they died or were injured. Thankfully I managed to hold in my tears until the end, where there was a screen showing the words inscribed on some of the headstones of the fallen, words selected by their families. The sense of loss was completely overwhelming.
Below are some photographs I took and while they aren’t the best quality, hopefully they give an idea of the sort of artefacts on show. I’ve included some detail with the images, so make sure you click through to read about them – there’s some amazing stuff to see.
If you live in Melbourne, or are planning on going there soon, I can highly recommend going to see this exhibition (or do what my mum and I did and go there just for it). It was both educational and emotional, and while war is not something that should be celebrated, it is part of human history and should be remembered so that we can learn from it.
The WW1 Centenary Exhibition is at Melbourne Museum until October 4th, 2015. You can get tickets at the museum or purchase them online at http://ww1exhibition.com.au/tickets/