Located near the Mardasson memorial, one of the siege’s most important museums can be found, the Bastogne war museum. Together with the memorial it is the most visited site of the battle and for a good reason. Just read keep on reading and you’ll know why.
The museum, formerly known as the Bastogne Historical Center, was reopened in 2014 after a major renovation. The museum covers the entire Second World War, as well as the Ardennes offensive. There are many military items to be found as well as some civilian items, depicting the civilian aspects of the battle.
3 sections are so called ‘Scenovisions’. In order to experience the ordeal of the soldiers, the temperature in one of the sections is kept 10 degrees lower than the other sections. Also you can visit a café during the siege which is bombed. You than need to move to the cellar in order to experience what living in a town under siege is like. The Scenovisions combine a ‘traditional’ display with old footage bringing the scene to life.
Through the use of scenography, testimonials, multi-media installations the exhibition ‘appeals not only to the intellect but to the emotions, giving visitors the feeling that this story belongs to each and every one of us.’
What else can be found?
Interactive terminals can be found along the museum route and they are specifically designed for school students and young people.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Bastogne War Museum regularly presents temporary items on display. These temporary windows (Story bubbles) consist of items borrowed, partnerships and donations.
The tour through the entire museum takes 2 hours minimum. You can choose between and audio tour and a guided tour. When choosing for the audio tour, there are four characters telling the story of the battle, Emile Mostade, a 13 your old boy, Mathilde Devillers, a school teacher, Hans Wegmuller, a German leutenant and Robert Keane, an American corporal of the 101st Airborne division. Though the characters are fictional all facts have been verified so their stories are accurate from a historical perspective. Their stories makes a visit an immersive experience.
What items are displayed?
The museum hosts a vast amount of documents, weapons and uniforms. Also lots of items an be found from ‘ordinary’ people living in Bastogne. One of the items standing which may catch your attention is a book from a notary with a bullet hole, showing that there was no ordinary live in Bastogne during the siege. If you are interested in weapons you may find the American Sherman tank or the German Hertzer tank. interesting. Also you may find a American M45 Quadmount Anti-Aircraft Gun.
The final word
We have not visited the museum since it was renovated. From fellow battlefield visitors we have heard some really positive comments, especially from the one with kids. As you may know we like the old style museums, but who are we to give any comments yet. Once we have revisited the museum, we’ll give you an update.