OK, so there’s lots of heated debate around the Centenary and First World War at the moment, which, is perhaps distracting a little from what the event should be all about —marking the anniversary by remembering and educating...
Luckily, behind all the differing opinion, there will be over 2,000 events, exhibitions and plays to look forward to over the next four years.
Something that I’ll be excited to see are the flypasts that have been planned to take place over stately homes, including one in August over the famous Highclere Castle, near Newbury, where Downton Abbey is filmed. The display will apparently feature vintage aircraft from the conflict and other stately homes, such as Castle Howard, will be hosting World War One shows.
And then there’s the opening of the Imperial War Museum’s new £5 million galleries in July, which will hold the world’s most extensive collection of material relating to the war.
In this new section there will be narrative accounts, touch screen initiatives and audio-visual displays linked to certain objects and also a soundscape with a real Sopwith Camel plane and Mark V tank looming over a recreated trench. Some areas will draw on the resource of the IWM Sound Archive which will emphasise the consequences of war including the act of killing and being killed.
The new atrium space will contain a Harrier, Spitfire, and V2 rocket suspended from the ceiling, as well as a T34 tank and a Reuters Landrover damaged by a rocket attack in Gaza.
In Portsmouth, at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, there will be a £4.3 million “HMS-Hear My Story” exhibition, the centrepiece of which will be the four inch gun from the destroyer HMS Lance which fired the war’s first shot at sea.
James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, told the Telegraph: “A time for reflection and commemoration, the anniversary of the First World War is something that will resonate across the country in 2014, shown by the outstanding level of activity across England. These experiences, from new exhibitions in our leading museums and galleries to specially commissioned pieces of theatre and performance, will allow visitors and communities to mark the centenary in a way that is meaningful to them.”
Other WWI Centenary events include:
Hope in the Great War — the Royal National lifeboat Institution's (RNLI) four- year touring exhibition highlighting the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people who volunteered for the RNLI throughout the First World War. Starting at the RNLI’s Henry Blogg Museum in Norfolk (from February 2014) the exhibition will convey a sense of hope with many lives saved at sea by the charity.
The Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire is focusing on the medical advances that came out of the First World War with their Unknown Heroes exhibition (from July 2014).The exhibition will examine the complex relationship between war and medicine.
National Museum Cardiff will host The Great War: Britain’s Efforts and Ideals from Aug 2014 – a series of lithograph prints from the Museum’s collection, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1917 with the aim of encouraging a war-weary public and to raise support for the war effort.
The exhibition will explore the varying attitudes such as the changing role of women as a result of the war.
Choices Then and Now is both a multi-media exhibition and education project (from Jan 2014) produced by the Peace Museum UK in Bradford. Drawing on stories linked to artefacts and documents from the Peace Museum's UK collection, the project focuses on the choices available and made by young people then and now and reflecting on the consequences of the choices made.
Ryde Social Heritage Group in the Isle of Wight, is planning The Changing Face of Ryde, a range of events including two open days with displays and trails in Ryde Cemetery (May 2014) with an opportunity to visit the graves of the fallen and find out what happened to their families and businesses and how the social life of Ryde changed with the onset of war.
The Birmingham Bach Choir will premiere a new specially-commissioned choral symphony at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham in September 2014.
Do you know of any other events that are taking place to mark the Centenary?
Join Forces War Records at the Who Do You Think You Are Live exhibition.
The ‘Who Do You Think You Are Live’ event will be held from Thursday 20th – Saturday 22 February, at the Olympia Centre in West Kensington, London.
Of course the special focus for this year’s show will be the World War One Centenary, and the 2014 show’s Military History Area, located in the upstairs gallery, will be much bigger than in previous years. This section is sure to be a hive of activity and that’s where you’ll find the Forces War Records stand where you can expect to chat to experts and learn how to use the site to make the most out of your genealogy research. We are constantly searching for rare lists, nominal roles and updating our records and our UK-based transcription team works with data from a variety of sources to unlock as much information as possible for anyone researching their family history.
For more information visit: ‘Who Do You Think You Are Live’.