First World War exhibition opens

The Museum of Richmond’s centenary exhibition, Richmond at Home and at War, was formally opened last week with an evening reception at the museum.

The event was an opportunity for friends, volunteers, and supporters to view the finished exhibition, and for many it was a first chance to see the outcome of many months’ hard work. It was also an opportunity for the museum to thank everyone who has been involved in the project.

Image of mayor and two other guests

The Mayor discussed the displays with guests

Attending the event were the Mayor of Richmond, Councillor Jane Boulton, museum patrons Bamber Gascoigne and Greville Dare, owner of the Petersham Hotel, and Gordon Craig, Marketing & Fundraising Director from the Royal Star & Garter Home.

Exhibition and Museum of Richmond curator Natascha Wintersinger said “We were delighted to be able to celebrate the hard work and achievements of all our research volunteers, project officers, lenders, and supporting partners by having such eminent dignitaries as His Excellency Anthony Bailey, and HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg open the private view.”

HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg, Mrs Anthony Bailey, is the great granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination was the spark to the conflict. The museum has been keen to explore the international aspects of the war, including the impact of the arrival in Richmond of thousands of Belgian refugees and wounded servicemen from around the world. Links with two European museums, the Musée Royal de l’Armée et de l’Histoire Militaire, Brussels, and Rosgartenmuseum, Konstanz, Germany, have allowed new perspectives to be shared on a war from which it is difficult to say any nation emerged truly victorious.

The displays generated much positive feedback, especially the forgotten stories rescued from the local archives. Amongst the many interesting artefacts on display, one of the stars was the propeller wing from a plane flown by 19-year old Captain Freddie Mathias. The plane was shot down but Freddie miraculously survived and his family, who have loaned the item, settled in Richmond after the war.

The exhibition is free and on until 22 April 2015, full details at www.museumofrichmond.com. Additional stories discovered during research for the exhibition will be published on this blog throughout the four-year centenary. Anyone who would like to share any of their own stories related to Richmond’s First World War can email the project.

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