As a history and museum lover, National Army Museum is a place you shouldn’t miss!
I haven’t written the reviews for a while since I’m mainly working on my dissertation currently. Last week, I finally had time to visit National Army Museum, which just reopened in March this year after the 3-year rebuilding programme.
I’m researching the experiences in historical museums, and I found out that sometimes history scares visitors away, especially the ones about war and military. I guess the main reason is that ‘wars’-relevant topics are generally tough and not very approachable. For most of the people, these topics might evoke the unpleasant emotion. For instance, when I visited Auschwitz concentration camp, I had to be prepared for the unexpected, shocking, and miserable truth of past. Although the museums are not as scary as the concentration camp, we might still link these topics to some negative memories.
Fortunately, the first impression of British Army is much more friendly. Queen’s Guard in the red uniform is almost a symbol of England or London. When people think of England, Queen’s Guard, Royal family, UK flag and big Ben are definitely the indispensable elements. The museum is informative, but the atmosphere is not too serious. I will tell you why I find this museum amazing:
1. Interactivity and the technology used
As a woman, military stuff is basically far away from me. However, in National Army Museum, you can get some ‘experiences’ through learning by doing. For example, in the ‘soldier’ area, you have to stand on the foot prints on the ground and the sensors will associate your moves, then your commander will tell you how to march. By the way, he said I was ‘awful’, how strict he was : (!!!
Also, you can try the uniforms on, learn the battle beats, and use the rifle to see how fast you can fire up. If being a soldier is your dream, then here is the place you must to be! (it sounds like an advertising. I know)
2. Different Themes
There are many rooms designed based on different themes, which include ‘soldier’, ‘Army’, ‘Society’, and ‘Battle’. I found each room has its own ‘style’. Also, it is quite interesting to see how the same group can be interpreted as different characters from each perspective. Personally, I really like ‘Society’, where we can see lots of the voices from society, how is the image of the army in citizens’ mind, and how they were advertised.
In ‘Battle’ area, the beautiful uniforms are displayed. There is a uniform that the Queen wore during the Second World War. When the museum was reopened by the Queen, she stood in front of it.
3. Voices from different perspectives
This is not an eye-catching part, but personally, it is also what makes this museum different from the others. On the lower ground floor, there is an area where the interactions between British Army and the other countries are presented. (like India, Scotland, Germany…etc) Besides the collections, there are small screens in front of the showcases that you can watch some videos give further information about the objects. The most different thing is, it is not only the discussion of the object, but also the voices from the community, and experts. It makes visitors feel the connections with the history. Also, we can explore the history from the viewpoints of people from that culture. It also decreases the visitors’ bias.
4. The website
By the way, from now on, I will talk more about the conversations I have in museums, as well as the characteristics by headings. It might be easier to read and more interesting for readers, because that’s something we can’t find on the net, and I love talking with staffs when I visit. Most of the museum staffs are very kind and willing to tell you what they know, especially the one with a specific theme!
In brief, I had a great experience in National Army Museum. Even if you’re not interested in military stuff that much, you can still have fun there. By the way, from now on, I will talk more about the conversations I have in museums, as well as the characteristics by headings. It might be easier to read and more interesting for readers, because that’s something we can’t find on the net, and I love talking with staffs when I visit. Most of the museum staffs are very kind and willing to tell you what they know, especially the one with a specific theme!
➤If you are interested in Queen’s Guard, I would like recommend another museum: The Guards Museum (http://www.theguardsmuseum.com/). I think it’s not the most famous one but I really like it. The staffs there are also Queen’s Guards before, thus they might share their unique stories with you!