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Permanent exhibition

The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 presents the historic story of the First World War in a poignant and vivid way, 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 more than half-a-million casualties for a territorial gain of merely eight kilometres. ‘Passchendaele’ not only became a concept in the history of the First World War, it also became a symbol of the great futility of the violence of war in all its horror. The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 combines the interactive design of a modern museum with the exceptional aspect of experiencing the Dugouts & Trenches.

The museum section provides an overview of the five battles of Ypres, including the Battle of Passchendaele. Using historical objects, authentic letters, posters and other documents, uniforms of the various armies and video clips etc. both young and old get an insight into how life must have been on and around the battlefields. The interactive elements throughout the entire museum collection ensure that children become acquainted with this piece of history in an interesting way. The tour then continues through the unique Dugout Experience. As a visitor, you discover how the British went to live underground in 1917. An oppressive experience that creates a disconcerting picture of the miserable and claustrophobic living conditions at that time. The visit concludes at the faithful reconstruction of German and British trenches, along which original shelters have been replicated. Experience the terrifying feeling that befell the soldiers when they were ‘imprisoned’ here. An intense visit that will only enrich your knowledge of the battle sites in the area. 

Chateau grounds: The historic chateau grounds of Zonnebeke accommodate the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and the Zonnebeke Tourist Office. This is the ideal departure point for an exploratory route along the battlefields of 1917. The well-known Polygon Wood and Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world, are located less than three kilometres away. You can find all the necessary information in the visitors’ room next to the museum reception; also for those who just want to take a walk, cycle ride or find a place to eat. You can completely relax in the chateau grounds, read a book on a bench in the park, stroll hand-in-hand by the lake or take a moment to stop and think about the history of WWI in the  ‘Poppy gardens’, themed gardens dedicated to the various nations that fought in the Battle of Passchendaele. 

Helen Pollock

If you would like to visit the museum, please click here for practical information.