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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 is well known for being the centre of the battlefields between the Allied and Central Powers during the First World War. However, this town, located in the province of West Flanders, Belgium, is much more than the symbol of Great War remembrance. Ypres encompasses more than one thousand years of rich history, and its inhabitants are now ready and keen on sharing its past with the world. 

In order to share with the world its history, Ypres has inaugurated the new interactive Yper Museum. No, I didn't type it wrong, the name of the museum is slightly different from the name of the town. The purpose is to unite the name of the city in French (Ypres),  Dutch (Ieper), German (Ypern) and to remember its medieval past, when the town was called Ypra. The location of the new museum could not be better: the magnificent Cloth Hall, which perfectly builds a bridge to Ypres's past. The place was originally built in the 13th century to store and trade fine cloth and it was almost entirely destroyed during the First World War. The Cloth Hall also hosts the Tourism Office and the famous In Flanders Fields Museum, composing a perfect cultural hub.

Yper is a dynamic museum for all ages. Right at the entrance of the museum we are given cat’s paw wristbands, which are used to personalise our visit. With the bracelet, we are able to choose the type of information we want to read in each part of the tour: from the glorious times of the cloth industry to the dark times of plagues. The kids have their own special video guide, Katelyne and her cat Leon, which are able to pass information in an engaging and simple way for the little ones. Many nice places were also created having the children in mind, for example, the fantastic 3D model of the medieval city and the cave under it. It was pleasant to see how they designed the museum taking into consideration the learning experience of young visitors.

Ypres was always in the middle of a political ping-pong between major European powers. However, its proud citizens never lost their sense of humour, which is visible throughout the entire tour. In the first floor, we see many interesting badges discovered in excavations of the moat, some of them are erotic and hilarious, as flying phalluses. In the second floor, there is a mini cinema displaying a creative 7 minutes video which summarizes all the invasions Yper faced in a very modern and comedic way.  My husband and I fell totally in love with the spicy humour of this museum.

The tour finally comes to an upbeat ending when the spotlight is shining on the most influential women of the city in the 19th and 20th century. For me, to learn about the story of the photographer Madame Léontine Antony-Permbeke, the lacemaker Clara Lamotte and the innovative painter Louise De Hem was the most interesting part of the visit. As we all know: history was written by man and for man. Thus, it's of vital importance that a museum brings to life the work and stories of women, and by doing so, it encourages many girls to believe in their potentials and to recognise female role models.

This is one of the most interactive and family-friendly museums I've visited so far. No matter the age: everyone can create their unique visitor experience. Furthermore, it's great to remember that places torn apart by war have a story before the destruction that should not be forgotten. Now we see this place with new eyes, thanks to the Yper Museum. Check the video of our tour for more details. 

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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