In a country where war was fought, it lingers, even if that war is already a century behind us. For each of the more than 600,000 dead who fell here, for each of the more than 425,000 graves and names on memorials and for the hundreds of traces and relics in the front region, for each of the millions affected (physically or psychologically wounded, refugees and displaced persons) there is a story of suffering, pain and ordeal somewhere in the world.
The City of Peace Ypres and the In Flanders Fields Museum conserve the link with the war past. Because it is important for those who want to speak about peace and war today.
The In Flanders Fields Museum presents the story of the First World War in the West Flanders front region. It is located in the renovated Cloth Halls of Ypres, an important symbol of wartime hardship and later recovery. The completely new permanent exhibition (opening 11 June 2012) tells the story of the invasion of Belgium and the first months of the mobilisation, the four years trench war in the Westhoek – from the beach of Nieuwpoort to the Leie in Armentières -, the end of the war and the permanent remembrance ever since.
The focus of the scenography is the human experience and calls particular attention to the contemporary landscape as one of the last true witnesses of the war history. In that context, a visit can also be arranged to the belfry, from where you have a view over the city and the surrounding battlefields. Hundreds of authentic objects and images are presented in an innovative experience-orientated layout. Lifelike characters and interactive installations confront the contemporary visitor with his peers in the war, a century ago.
The museum works from many possible perspectives The general and military – historical is important, but also the relation with the present, our approach – as human and society – to our past and that of all other countries involved. People from five continents and more than fifty different countries and cultures took part in the war in Flanders. Our public is diversified and extremely international.
The In Flanders Fields museum is much more than a permanent exhibition. There is a current educational action for students from inland and abroad, besides a cultural and artistic programme. In the research centre of the museum every visitor can delve deeper into that dramatic period of the history of the world. Individually you can research the big, global background story here as well as the very personal and local history.
Because the nature of war does not change in time, the museum considers presenting this war story as a universal and contemporary message of peace, and therefore an important social mission. The museum works closely together with partners who share its mission and works within the framework of Ypres City of Peace.
The In Flanders Fields Poem
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If you break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields
By Major John McCrae – 1915 – Boezinge
‘In Flanders Fields’ is a poem written by the Canadian army physician and poet John McCrae.
He wrote it in early May 1915 in his medical aid station near Essex farm, 2 km to the north of the centre of Ypres.
The poem was published on 8 December 1915.
John McCrae died on 28 January 1918, while in charge of the Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne. He is buried in Wimereux cemetery (Pas-de-Calais, F)
Visit the In Flanders Fields Museum website here: www.inflandersfields.be/en