The Worcestershire Militaria Museum is a virtual museum focused on the regiments associated with the English county of Worcestershire, in the West Midlands. Roughly situated between the former industrial hub of Birmingham and the port of Bristol, the county is famous for its hand-made Morgan sports cars and the popular cooking condiment, Worcestershire Sauce. In military history the Battle of Worcester was the last key battle of the 1642 - 1651 English Civil War. But enough about the county, what about the actual collection?
The museum displays a modest collection of uniform focused items dating from 1913 until the present day, showing what soldiers from the region would have been wearing, from hats to tunics and more. It is divided into 3 main chronological galleries: The Worcestershire Regiment, The Worcestershire & Sherwood Forester Regiment, and the Mercian Regiment, which show the connection of these infantry units and the wars they fought in. The 4th gallery represents the county’s Yeomanry cavalry regiments. Each exhibit includes a description of the exhibit shown and in most cases a biography of the individuals who owned or wore them.
Worcestershire aside, the museum also includes a small but unique gallery titled, Behind the Uniforms Exhibition showcasing biographies of mainly British senior officers from the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, from the 1930s until the 2000s, showcasing headdress and uniforms together with an overview of the officer’s military service, including the First World War, Second World War (and Battle of Britain), and atomic bomb testing.
The Museum offers a section on education with various printable learning resources available to download for free, to support teachers, home learning, or just for fun. There are even paper soldier models (pictured at top), a WW2 jeep and a British Army Land Rover, as well as a flying model of a WW2 Hurricane, which can be printed out, for those interested in hands-on history. There are also sections highlighting local attractions, books reviews and articles.
The museum can be visited at www.worcestershiremilitariamuseum.org and is open 24hours a day, 365 days a year, including holidays. It is accessible from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. This of course depends on the internet connection and the hosting provider. The museum also has a presence on social media.
Why is the Worcestershire Militaria Museum only visitable on-line? A digital museum is inclusive, it’s available to everyone, anytime and everywhere access to the world wide web is provided. It is also friendlier to planet earth compared to a conventional museum building, as it doesn’t need lighting or heating. Being virtual also means that galleries can be updated, changed, or added to easily and quickly without too much disruption to its visitors. Especially important with a collection that is constantly evolving. Museum funding for running costs is always an issue, especially for smaller ones. Being internet based therefore keeps the setup and running costs low and ensures a highly specific museum can flourish and survive, whilst also keeping it free to visitors. A physical museum and virtual museum both have their benefits and disadvantages but the choice for the Worcestershire Militaria Museum was simple and clear.
So, grab yourself a warm beverage or a cold refresher, settle back comfortably into your chair, log onto the internet and discover what the museum has to offer.
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Olivier C Dorrell is the author of British Officer’s Peak Caps of the Second World War (Schiffer Books, 2014) and is the Webmaster of the Worcestershire Militaria Museum, virtual museum. He is interested in art and history, military history in particular, and is a keen visitor and supporter of museums and the unique experiences they offer.