Understanding Sacrifice – Bastogne War Museum

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Understanding Sacrifice: An ABMC Education Project. 

Brian Weaver

Central Bucks High School – West

Doylestown, Pennsylvania

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The Bastogne War Museum’s simple name belies its cutting-edge nature. The tour through this state-of-the-art experience introduces viewers to four characters upon entering: a schoolboy, a schoolteacher, a German soldier, and an American soldier. Each visitor receives a headset to start the experience and sensors throughout the museum prompt one of these four characters to explain their story in the context of the exhibit the visitor is viewing. Four different perspectives shape the events depicted in the museum.

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Those events begin at the end of World War I, and the displays walk the viewer room by room through the timeline of events that led to the Second World War and the Battle of the Bulge. Along the way, concise, small displays blend seamlessly with larger exhibits. The inclusion of Belgian affairs makes this quite different than the typical World War II museum. One gets the familiar storyline with a Belgian subplot that is always engaging and often fascinating, especially when the Resistance comes into the discussion.

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The quartet of storytellers narrates each room, and each time a visitor switches locations in the room a different virtual guide takes over. In three locations the visitors enter theaters and view incredible interactive displays. The first, a 3-D experience, shows how the war had advanced to the situation on the eve of the Bulge. The second puts viewers in the midst of the Ardennes Forest, a realistic sound-stage with light and sound effects interacting with footage playing on screens within the trees. The atmosphere is breathtaking. Finally, the third-sound stage puts people in a café in the midst of the Battle of the Bulge.  In these 10-15 minute scenes the four storylines play a significant role. No spoilers here, but be sure you stay through this entire presentation. As with the rest of the museum, you will not be disappointed.

Applications are currently being accepted for World War II in the Mediterranean. Click here for more information and an application. The application deadline is midnight on Friday, September 4, 2015.

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