Soldiers’ Journey at Milestones Museum
Dear mummy, it’s not often that we attend a historical exhibition and this week we feel that we are really witnessing something special.
Every year we honour Remembrance Day, we hold our minutes silence, wear our poppies and remember the brave heroes that fought in the First World War for our country, however this year is different.
As it’s the 100th year anniversary of the First World War, people up and down the country are celebrating our heroes by holding events to commemorate our fallen.
The most famous of these is the Poppy Display at The Tower of London, an art installation to mark each and everyone that gave up their lives to spare ours by ceramic artist Paul Cummins.
Closer to home, Hampshire are commemorating the centenary year by celebrating across our county. Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914, is a website dedicated to showcasing events and exhibitions marking the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. It’s a great resource that lists local events and exhibitions taking place throughout 2014 and into 2015. The Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914 website also shares personal stories that help viewers to understand Hampshire’s unique role in the conflict and provide previews of the forthcoming exhibitions.
Little did I know that Hampshire played such a critical role in the First World War, millions of soldiers headed to Hampshire to start their travels to join the conflict. Both my mummy and I wanted to gain a greater understanding of what people experienced during the war. My mummy has watched war films, documentaries and attended the War & Peace Show but we wanted to immerse ourselves in an interactive experience. Bored of stuffy museums (which aren’t really child friendly) we headed to Hampshire’s Living History Museum, Milestones in Basingstoke. The last time we visited Milestone we saw the Lego Lost World down there!
Milestones is playing host to the ‘Soldiers’ Journey’ which is part of Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914 – a series of exhibitions to mark the centenary of the First World War. Soldiers’ Journey is an interactive exhibition designed to help kids understand what it would have been like to live in Hampshire during the First World War. Hampshire’s Big Theme 1914 had recommended this exhibition as family friendly, so we travelled back to the streets of wartime Hampshire at Milestones. To see Hampshire’s Home Front from a new perspective. Milestones is full of old-fashioned streets, vehicles and shops and is the perfect setting for this new type of exhibition.
We follow two fictional characters, Tom and Emily, around the museum to help solve the mystery of a suspicious stranger…is he a German spy? On the way we meet soldiers from across the world and hear their stories via video and pop-up displays and life-size talking illustrations. During the school holidays and weekends live costumed actors talk to the public as well, which added to the whole experience. We even had the chance to play dress up too, by squeezing ourselves into old fashion nurses outfits and soldiers uniforms.
On entry to Milestones we were given a copy of Tom’s Diary which leads us through the war years, pausing at ‘story stops’ where we completed tasks and learnt about life in First World War Hampshire. We were also given pencils to fill in the worksheets in the diary, an audio guide and a map of Milestones.
We spent 3 hours following Tom and Emily around, occasionally stopping for a dance on the bandstand, a drink in the local pub and spend some pennies in the old-fashioned arcades. It’s a very educational and fun experience, perfect for attending this November. My favourite part was pressing the audio buttons on the displays and hearing the people talk and tell stories. Mummy loved the cardboard cut-outs of the characters and the drawings. Tom’s diary was also very easy and fun to follow and a lovely keepsake of the day.
Afterwards we visited Milestones old-fashioned post office, where you can dress up and post letters in their very own fully working store (You will need a key for this room from the information centre) they like to keep it in good working order. I enjoy listening to the audio description of the shops in the Milestones too! And wore the audio guide around my neck to listen to it. We finished off with tea and biscuits in the great little 1950’s cafe at Milestones and browsed around the extensive gift shop. My mummy bought me some stickers which kept me amused on the way home.
If you want to give your family a fun but educational overview to remember and celebrate the centenary year of the First World War, then we would highly recommend a visit to ‘Soldiers’ Journey’ at Milestones.
Soldiers’ Journey runs from Tuesday 5 August 2014 until Sunday 11 January 2015.
£8.95, Concessions £7.95, Child £5.25, Family £26.75
Love Bella x