Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A New World War One Museum . . . Musée de la Grande Guerre

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I've been meaning to do this post for some weeks now, but time just keeps slipping away. Some of you have expressed interest in previous pieces in these pages related to World War One history, in which case this short report may be of particular interest to you. On this past November 11th, a new museum dedicated to World War One opened in France, le Musée de la Grande Guerre, just north of the small city of Meaux, which is a short distance east of Paris, about 40 kms. Nicolas Sarkozy was present for the inaugurational opening. A large part of the museum's holdings came from one large private collection assembled over a 40 year period by a passionate collector, Jean-Pierre Verney. All I can say is that if you are interested in the history of that terrible war, this new museum is an absolute must to visit. I'm ready to go back, because on our first trip there I barely scratched the surface of everything there is to see. If not travelling by car, you can get there by taking a train to Meaux from the Gare de l'Est in Paris, then taking a bus from the Meaux station to the museum. Well worth the short trip to get there !
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19 comments:

JeannetteLS said...

Oh, my. How I wish I could return to France. Your pictures are enough without any explanations to make me want to go there. The room with the plane and the car made me feel like a kid.

There is so little we get in the states about that first terrible war. So much of our history classes and documentaries, etc. exclude much of any information on WW1.

Thank you for giving us this glimpse.

Laurie said...

Amazing place, Owen. Thank you for reporting on it.

Lorrene said...

I found this positively fascinating !! Thank you for taking the pictures and posting them.

Steve said...

Wow. What an incredible looking museum - both inside and out. It's now on my list of places to visit.

the fly in the web said...

When next back in France I'll visit this museum...thank you so much for the introduction to it.

French Girl in Seattle said...

"The Great War" it was, but not in a good way. I was reading an article online the other day. It listed the number of casualties by country. The Russian Empire, France and England the most heavily hit. Men and boys killed within the same family.My great-grand father died 8 months after the beginning of the war. He was 22. I don't think you will find a single French village or town without a "Monument aux Morts" celebrating French soldiers killed during the conflict. Still, they were at it again twenty years later. Amazing. I am glad there is a museum entirely dedicated to WW1 so nobody forgets. I will make sure to visit it soon and will bring my 12-year old along. Thank you, Owen, for these beautiful photos. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Wow.. Jean-Pierre was a very dedicated collector .. this is an amazing and beautiful commemorative .. Thanks!!

Pat Tillett said...

Wow! That is an amazing place! Fantastic photos! Thanks!

Le Journal de Chrys said...

C'est bien trop loin de chez moi pour que je puisse le visiter mais ça semble très très intéressant!
C'est une visite que je ferais bien avec ma fille car elle s'intéresse à l'Histoire.

Bises Owen

Lydia said...

The next-best thing to actually visiting such a wondrous museum is seeing it through the eyes of your lens, Owen. What a sensitive touch you have with your captures, with your presentation of your images. I just loved this post.

distracted by shiny objects said...

I have become completely obsessed with learning more about WWI after watching Downton Abbey. As Jeannette mentioned we don't get much in American schools about it, but truth be told the World Wars come at the end of the year and everything from the 1900's on get crammed together. Thanks for the info here; yet another reason to cross the pond!! And soon!!
I'm reading Into the Silence right now, by Wade Davis,--about the climbing of Everest, but also about those young men who survived the war and their experience. It's slow reading for me, really interesting, and I have to keep finding my husband to read excerpts. Poor guy, but that is the job of husbands :>)

louciao said...

Thank you for a tour of a place I will likely never visit. Interesting to view the objects therein through the sharp focus of your own fascination and camera lens.

lgsquirrel said...

What a terrible war that was. This new museum will help make sure that the sacrifices made and the horrors endured will not be forgotten by future generations. It looks like an amazing collection. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Springman said...

The Kaiser's speech to departing troops in August 1914: "You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees."

Do wars deserve a museum? Should the needle work of the fashion designers in service to the great cause be fitted to mannequins to soullessly strut behind a display window again; or a mandolin cobbled from a spare helmet now thrill us?
Perhaps a detached arm laying by a barbed wire fence would say more and cost a lot less. Maybe a pitcher of water to represent a mothers tears would be a interesting display.
No doubt, I have the war bug too. I especially like the War of 1812 fought where I now stand. A relative skirmish fought over the placement of the border between Canada and the expanding Colonies. After three years fighting the parties decided to leave the boarder alone. Those were glorious days my friend. The uniforms however; rather trite and predictable. Of course Napoleon was raging through Europe in those years and had possibly the best looking uniforms of all time although honest people will argue that point. The thing is over 40 wars were fought world wide between 1810 and 1820 and you'd have to admit Shaka Zulu's troops cast a lovely shadow too.
So, WORLD War I(1914-1919) aka the "Great War"... Please, when has the world not been at war?

High regards to you Philip and good luck on your projects!
Dave

TheChieftess said...

I remember the Musee de l'Armee from the first time I was in Paris in 1978...Very impressive! I'm sure this museum would be fascinating...

Catherine said...

This looks like a must to visit......thanks for the directions....did you see the recent televised version of birdsong?

Stickup Artist said...

The architecture of the building itself looks pretty amazing and dramatic. It's hard to believe one man was able to collect so much, yet here it is. The interior lighting also looks extraordinary. Did the collector live long enough to see this outcome? It will be a wonderful day indeed when the only knowledge of war will be in hindsight, thru books and museums...

Owen said...

Thanks one and all for dropping by and leaving your thoughts here, your reflections make this all worthwhile.

There are a couple of quotes which are perhaps pertinent here:

Albert Einstein apparently said :
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former"

Konrad Adenauer said :
"In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems unfair that He did not also limit his stupidity."

And finally, Frank Zappa stated :
"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."

Owen said...

Stickup, yes, the collector is very much alive and involved in the museum project, though his collection was purchased by the museum.