The Manx Aviation and Military Museum is delighted to announce the opening of its new exhibition which features the Manx people in the First World War. It is the culmination of five years’ research and fills a purpose-built exhibition space at the museum which many visitors liken to Dr Who’s “Tardis”.
Museum Director Ivor Ramsden gives some background to the exhibition:
“I started work on this project at Christmas 2012 with the intention of opening the exhibition in August 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the start of the war. As my research went on, and publicity for the project brought in masses of objects for use, I quickly realised that it was going to take a very long time to put it together because everything that came in had to be meticulously identified and researched. Each object has a story to tell and I’ve tried very hard to find every possible scrap of information surrounding the objects and the people who they belonged to. At times the information has been very sad and the emotions have run very high. It’s impossible to do this work without developing a strong empathy with the people who were involved.
“The exhibition has cost a lot of money to put together despite most of the work having been done by me and our other volunteers. We have bought a number of items from the period which are of considerable historic significance and which were at risk of being sold off the Island and we are very grateful to Culture Vannin and to the Gough Ritchie Charitable Trust for their help with funds.
“In the museum I have always tried to include some humour into the displays where appropriate but I’m afraid that the unimaginable slaughter of the First World War isn’t a subject for humour. In fact I shall be surprised if anybody leaves the exhibition without a tear in their eye.
“It’s not a place to learn about the big picture of the war; for that you will need to read the history books. Just like in the rest of the museum, it tells the personal stories of the people who were involved. At the very start of the project I decided that I would use every item that was given or loaned and I’m pleased to say that I’ve more or less achieved this. There’s an awful lot more than medals here but, just looking at medals, every single one that we’ve been given is on display along with information about the man who received it. A lot of museums have display cases full of medals but in my opinion there has got to be a story with them, otherwise they are just pieces of shiny metal which don’t mean very much. In this exhibition we’ve got a story for every medal; it has proved very difficult to find information about a few of the people whose names are on the medals so in those cases the stories are brief and I should be delighted to receive any additional details about anything or anybody which features in the exhibition. Whilst the exhibition is a permanent one, I can easily make changes to it.
“The names of every one of the Manx people who lost their lives during the conflict are listed on the way out and many visitors will find the names of one or more of their family there.”
The exhibition is permanent and, whilst it is already packed with objects, Ivor is very keen to have any additional items which he will try his best to fit into it in the future.
Manx Aviation & Military Museum: http://maps.org.im/museum