The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 presents the story of the First World War, with a particular emphasis on the Battle of Passchendaele. This battle in 1917 is known as one of the most horrific battles from the First World War, with almost 600,000 casualties for a movement of the frontline of only eight kilometres. The MMP1917 focuses on the visitor’s experience with a replica dugout (underground shelter) and trenches. Using authentic letters, uniforms, video clips … both young and old get an insight into how life must have been on and around the battlefields. The youngest visitors can go explore on their own with Lisa, Louis and their little friend Maurice, the museum rat. Lisa and Louis visit their grandfather, who collects WWI stuff in the chateau of Zonnebeke. Maurice takes the children on a discovery tour of the museum with the help of a folding map and an audio play. Along the way, they carry out fun assignments.
The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 is located in the chateau grounds of Zonnebeke in the middle of the former battlefield. As an “open museum”, the MMP1917 therefore establishes the link between historical facts and the landscape. For example, in collaboration with the Tourism Office, the museum developed a network of sites in the Zonnebeke area, which are connected by various walking loops and cycle routes. Important links are Polygon Wood, the many bunkers and the free visitor center of CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. A 3 km long walking loop with themed information panels takes you from the MMP1917 to this cemetery with almost 12,000 graves and 35,000 names on the monument to the missing. PLEASE NOTE: Due to maintenance, the visitor centre will be closed from 9/1/2023 up to and including 15/1/2023. However, the cemetery will remain accessible.
Right next to the museum are the eight “Memorial Gardens” in the Passchendaele Memorial Park. These gardens commemorate the nations that fought in the region during the First World War. Each garden has the shape of a poppy and consists of three smaller garden sections. The participating countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States were responsible for the design and construction of their own garden. You can visit the gardens for free.
From the gardens you have a beautiful view of the “pou maumahara“, which is located next to parking 2. This 8 meter high Maori wood sculpture commemorates the New Zealand Maori and other soldiers of the First World War. The “pou maumahara” was named “Pohutukawa”, after the native New Zealand tree that symbolizes a new beginning. The monument has two sides that represent both “Tamatauenga” (war) and “Rongomaraeroa” (peace). The war side commemorates the New Zealanders who came to our region to fight (and often did not return), while the other side remembers those who remained in New Zealand. Master wood carvers, teachers and students from the New Zealand M?ori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) in Rotorua, New Zealand created the pou maumahara in their institute. They made this commemorative sculpture from a native New Zealand wood species of more than 4,500 years old. This film shows images of the creation: https://vimeo.com/125096123
In the church tower of Zonnebeke you can visit the free exhibition “Signed Landscape”. The top floor offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. The church tower is within walking distance of the museum.
For more information about the sights, activities and restaurants in the Zonnebeke area, you can visit the website of the Tourist Office.
The visitors’ centre is closed from 13 December 2021 to 1 February 2022.
Opening hours visitors’ centre:
Daily: 10h00 – 18h00