Since 1967, the Verdun Memorial has been the depositary of the memory of the French and German combatants at Verdun, the emblematic battle of the First World War. Driven by Maurice Genevoix, founding president of the Comité National du Souvenir de Verdun (CNSV) (National Committee for the Remembrance of Verdun) and the War Veterans’ associations, the Memorial aims to be not only a place of remembrance for all the soldiers who fell on the battlefield, but also a place for interpreting and understanding the battle. Since its inauguration, its collections have been enriched with hundreds of documents and objects relating the experiences of the soldiers and embodying the daily reality of the men on the front and behind the lines. Although donations are the most frequent means of acquisition, there are other ways of enriching our collections including purchases on the art and militaria markets, as well as loans from partner institutions, such as the Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne and the Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux.
The rebirth of the Verdun Memorial in 2016 made it possible to ensure a more thorough management of its collections, focusing on preventive conservation and inventory-making according to the standards of the Musées de France thanks to the greater resources made available for ensuring their transmission and enhancement. Thus, the Conservation Department’s work on the collections takes on many different forms: health monitoring (atmosphere, infestation prevention, etc.), dusting, defining an acquisitions policy, reception of donors, loan of works, digitisation, inventory, display of works and putting on exhibitions, etc. At the service of a common goal – that is to say preserving and enhancing the memorial heritage of Verdun – it collaborates with all the departments of the cultural organisation (Cultural Development & Communication Department, Technical Department, Educational Department, Administrative Departments). At the head of a highly diversified collection, going from military documents to soldiers’ equipment, whether French or German, taking in trench arts & crafts, it is from the generosity and commitment of its contributors that the Memorial draws the strength of its message and the wealth of its collections.
In the prolongation of the Centenary celebrations and in order to showcase a perpetually growing, living collection the Conservation Department is proud to present one or more objects from among its acquisitions. In addition to the permanent exhibition, this event offers an opportunity to throw light on objects unknown to the general public. See the other side of the picture and plunge into the history of the men and women, combatants and their descendants, who today are perpetuating, as they did in the past, the memory of the battle of Verdun and helping to spread the international prestige of its Memorial.