Origin of the museum
The chapel, in which the museum is located, dates back from the early twenties. This chapel was built directly across the Hooge Crater cemetery in memory of the many fallen soldiers on the battle fields of ‘Hooge’ over a period of 4 years. The chapel and annex village school was bought by the De Smul – Ceuninck family in 1992 – 1993 and saved from total ruin due to a radical renovation. The museum is now located in the renewed chapel and the old village school is now the place for the theme café. The museum ‘Hooge Crater’ was inaugurated on Easter Day, 1994. It got in the hands of Niek and Ilse Benoot – Watteyne from the 1st of January, 2009. It still is a private museum with all kinds of unique collections of the Great War, exposed in a great setting!
The museum exposes collections of two people: first of all, there is the collection of curator Niek Benoot and in addition, you can admire the collection of Phillipe Oosterlinck, a passionate collector of war material of the Great War. On the one hand, you have a very extended collection of weapons from the period 1914 – 1918 and on the other hand the uniforms and equipment of all armies that fought during those 4 years of intense battle fields. Rare military clothing of the troops, that where fighting in the ‘Ypres Salient’ (Ieperboog) are exposed in glass displays. Also you can see some full scale scenes of the Great War battle fields, very authentically reproduced. The theme of the scenes is very divers: German bunkers, British trenches and full scale horses with cavalry troops on their backs.
To find your way in all this historical evidence, all weapons and material are ranked by land and army and of course labeled with some adequate explanation. Most of the exposed material came in the possession of the De Smaul family immediately after the war in 1919. It was transferred from grandfather to grandchild, which gives the whole concept an ever more special feature. Now the entire collection is property of Niek Benoot. There has been a exposition over the last couple of years of all kinds of material, dug out by ‘The Diggers’ in The Yorshire Trench in Boezinge, one of the trenches that can be visited in the museum too. There is a guided tour with additional explanation and a short historical overview in several languages by means of an audio system.
The Museum Hooge Crater offers its visitors a unique tour! An original Ford T Ambulance of 1916 and a replica of a Fokker DR1 makes the whole experience of the life of a soldier in the Great War even more real!
Official Website – http://www.hoogecrater.com/en/
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