Georges Rouzeau - 2012-02-07
Inaugurated on 11th November 2011 in Meaux, the museum of the Great War is exhibiting, in an area covering over 3000 m2, an exceptional collection built up over forty years by Jean-Pierre Verney, a self-taught man who is an acknowledged expert on the First World War.
Using objects as the vehicles of past memories, Jean-Pierre Verney, the historian and creator of this museum project, has decided to tell the great World War I stories and the small ones, as well as the great transformation of society during the passage from the 19th to the 20th century.
His private collection forms the major part of the 50,000 objects and documents exhibited in the Museum of the Great War, Pays de Meaux. There are everyday objects (stoves, tobacco, souvenirs, first aid kits etc.), larger items (mobile kitchens, hospital beds, train wagons, wheelchairs for mutilated persons etc.), newspapers, photographs, glass plates, posters, postcards and also drawings, letters, engravings and paintings. These catalogue pieces are in his words "a collection of a society rather than a collection of military objects." But the military objects are of course also represented and the exhibits include very large artillery equipment (guns, swords, bayonets, shells ...) and the finest collection of uniforms in Europe (200), representing every nation that fought in the war (35 countries.)
The transformation of society from the 19th to the 20th century
A scientific committee was constituted under the historian Marc Ferro which has made considerable efforts to create the historical narrative of the Great War museum. Both educational and full of belief, this space demonstrates how combat conditions have changed between the first battle of the Marne in 1914, reminiscent of the 1870 war, and the second battle of the Marne in 1918, in which the advanced technology found in subsequent conflicts was used. In particular it shows the extent of the upheavals that provoked the 1914 war, from the status of women in society to the global geopolitics, from the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO 76 years later.
This total and integral approach makes the Museum of the Great War in the Pays de Meaux a museum of both history and society where you can easily spend a whole day. Children are also welcome to enjoy the museum from the age of 8 years upwards.
Museum of the Great War, Pays de Meaux
Rue Lazare Ponticelli
77100 Meaux France
Tel: +33 (0)1 60 32 14 18