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14 October 2018

How a Flemish Museum is Renovating the Image of a WWI Martyr City

Hello folks,

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

Ypres, renowned as the focal point of WWI battlefields between the Allied and Central Powers, holds a narrative far beyond its emblematic role in Great War remembrance. Nestled in West Flanders, Belgium, Ypres boasts over a millennium of rich history, now eagerly shared by its residents with the world.

To bring its storied past to a global audience, Ypres proudly unveiled the new interactive Yper Museum. And no, that's not a typo; the museum's name intentionally varies from the city's to embrace its French (Ypres), Dutch (Ieper), and German (Ypern) denominations, paying homage to its medieval moniker, Ypra. Its home? The iconic Cloth Hall – a testament to Ypres's heritage. This 13th-century edifice, once a bustling hub for the cloth trade and nearly obliterated during WWI, now serves as a cultural nexus, housing the Tourism Office and the renowned In Flanders Fields Museum.

The Yper Museum emerges as a vibrant space for visitors of all ages. Upon entry, cat’s paw wristbands are provided, allowing guests to tailor their journey through Ypres’s epochs, from its cloth trade glory to the plague's dark days. Children are engaged through Katelyne and her cat Leon's video guide, making history accessible and fun. The museum thoughtfully includes child-centric attractions, like the 3D medieval city model and an exploratory cave, ensuring a memorable learning experience for younger guests.

Ypres's tumultuous history of political entanglements with Europe's major powers is presented with a distinct sense of humour. Exhibits, such as humorous badges unearthed from the moat featuring comical designs, and a mini-cinema summarizing Ypres's numerous invasions in a light-hearted video, showcase the city's enduring spirit. This spicy humour captivated my husband and me, adding a unique flavour to our museum experience.

The exhibition culminates in a celebration of influential Ypres women from the 19th and 20th centuries, highlighting figures like photographer Madame LĂ©ontine Antony-Permbeke, lacemaker Clara Lamotte, and painter Louise De Hem. In a historical narrative often dominated by male perspectives, the museum's focus on women's stories and achievements is refreshing and inspiring, encouraging recognition of female role models.

The Yper Museum stands out as an exceptionally interactive and family-friendly destination, offering a personalised experience for every visitor. Furthermore, it's great to remember that places torn apart by war have a story before the destruction that should not be forgotten. With the Yper Museum, we view this place through new eyes. For more details, check out the video of our tour.

Practical Information

Lakenhallen Grote Markt 34
8900 Ieper | Tel. 057 239 220

Opening Hours:
From 1 April to 15 November - daily from 10 am to 6 pm
From 16 November to 31 March - from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm;
closed Mondays
Annual closing - 2 last weeks of January

Individual - Yper Museum
adults                         7 EUR
youth (19-25)             4 EUR
children (7-18)            3,5 EUR
children (-7)               free
families                      15 EUR
(2 ad and 3 ch <18)               

Group - Yper Museum
mixed groups              5 EUR
schools/youth              3 EUR

For more practical information visit the Yper Museum website.

You can see more photos of my trips on Instagram and videos on Youtube

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