The Bastogne War Museum has been developed from the Bastogne Historical Center which had been established on the same premises and in the same building. This museum has been closed in 2011 for a thorough restoration and expansion and opened its doors again on 22 March, 2014.
The place where the museum has been established is pretty special, right next to the Mardasson Monument in Bastogne. The museum exposes materials and equipment both from public collections as well as from private sources with many many extraordinary pieces. Lots of documents, weapons and uniforms but also utensils of the civilian population from Bastogne. For example a book of a public notary with a huge bullet hole in it. The general story has been told through the objects and panels on the wall; do you want more information, then you will find touch screens in every room where you can find lots more of (technical) information about all kinds of equipment and subjects.
The museum provides an overview of the total of the war, so not only about the Battle of the Bulge. The overview is broken down into ten sections of which three, with a nice word, are being called ‘scénovisons’. You are guided by the ten ‘blocks’ from the First World War and through the Interbellum towards the invasion of Belgium. The first ‘scénovision’ is a three dimensional movie about the military operations in the war. Thereafter you follow the occupation and resistance in Belgium and onwards to the landings in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. This is connected to the second experience: you are able to completely indulge in the battle, the area has even been chilled with 10 degrees compared with the remainder of the museum. After this sensation, daily life during the war has been exposed with which the last ‘scénovision’ has been connected. You will find yourself in a little pub in Bastogne during the bomb raid of 22 December 1944 and you end up in the cellar of that pub in order to experience the ordeal the civilian population of Bastogne had to withstand.
The Bastogne War Museum is situated north of Bastogne on the same premises as the Mardasson Monument. In and around Bastogne various museums can be found amongst others the 101st Airborne Museum Le Mess, the Bastogne Ardennes 44 Museum and the Bastogne Barracks. Next to the museums of course also the famous Sherman Tank and the many monuments and memorials in the center of Bastogne are worth a visit. A little further on in Recogne the German War graves cemetery can be visited and the location of the former American cemetery in Foy.
In case you would want to visit something else in the area of Bastogne which has no reference to the war, you will have to travel a bit further on. In Recogne there is buffalo farm, and of course in the area of the river Ourthe in the Ardennes there are many opportunities for sporty activities to be engaged in. And a visit to the castle from the Middle Ages of La Roche is always a nice alternative.
In the future the museum intends to be more than just a museum and memorial. It is equipped with a little shop, a cafeteria and a terrace. Next to that it wants to organize vents and temporary exhibitions.
For current visiting hours, please visit the website of the museum.
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- Text: Jeroen Koppes
- Photos: Jeroen Koppes