Last updated: 6 December 2010
This autumn the National Army Museum offers families a unique opportunity to explore some of the complex subjects of the World Wars with the opening of 'War Boy: The Michael Foreman Exhibition'. Using original artwork from the leading children's illustrator and artefacts from the museums collection, 'War Boy' will pick out key themes from the conflicts.
The exhibition will focus on two of Foreman's books, 'War Boy' and 'War Game', as well as 'Billy the Kid', illustrated by Michael Foreman and written by the author of the hugely popular 'War Horse', Michael Morpurgo. 'War Boy' will give visitors the chance to step inside the pages of these books, using real objects to further explore the museum's fantastic World Wars collections.
The 'War Game' section of the exhibition will explore the experiences of the British Army during the First World War, following four characters as they sign up and are shipped off to fight. Focussing on August 1914 up to Christmas 1914, 'War Game' looks specifically at recruitment, training and the living conditions of life in the trenches, as well as the extraordinary story of the 1914 Christmas Truce. It also explores the cost of war, through text and objects such as the medals of Michael Foreman's uncles who died fighting in the First World War.
The 'War Boy' section of the exhibition will delve directly into Michael Foreman's personal experiences as a child growing up in Lowestoft during the Second World War. Using the personal accounts of Michael Foreman, visitors will learn about the connection between the British Army and civilians during this time and how life in a small town dramatically changed. Other themes will include rationing, coastal defences and air raid precautions. Immersive spaces will include a 1940s General store, Morrison shelter and Pillbox.
'Billy the Kid' will look at one of Michael's favourite books, telling the story of a fictional Chelsea Pensioner, whose career as a professional footballer for Chelsea football club is interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939. Visitors will be able to handle a real Chelsea Pensioner's uniform, learn about Chelsea and Kensington during the Second World War and the strong links between football and the British Army.
A hands-on interactive experience, children will be encouraged to create their own works of art in a special arts and craft area. Young visitors will also have the opportunity to use activity sheets, exploring themes such as rationing and propaganda. Michael Foreman's original artwork, including early and recent work will be on display in the Gallery area of the exhibition.
On the day of the exhibition launch, Michael will be running an educational workshop with young visitors. Using content from his book, children will be able to listen to stories, take part in art activities and handle items from the museum's collection that feature within the books. This workshop is recommended for children over the age of six; children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult throughout the workshop. Visitors will also be able to see Michael Foreman at work in the gallery where he will draw an image directly on to a wall in the Studio section of the exhibition.
To coincide with the launch of the exhibition the National Army Museum will also be running a Christmas card competition asking its visitors to create a design for the National Army Museum Christmas card which will be judged by Michael.
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The National Army Museum explores the impact of the British Army on the story of Britain, Europe and the world; how Britain's past has helped to shape our present and our future and how the actions of a few can affect the futures of many.
The National Army Museum was established by Royal Charter to tell the story of the Land Forces of the crown wherever they were raised. Opened by the queen in 1960, it moved to its current site in Chelsea in 1971.