A new £15.7 million facility at the National Memorial Arboretum to enable visitors to take an emotional journey of discovery around the site’s 330 memorials, has just opened.
The Remembrance Centre in Alrewas, Staffordshire, features an exhibition that previews the Arboretum and invites people to explore the concept of Remembrance and how it has evolved over time, from historic rituals associated with burial mounds to modern day services.
The centre has a number of interactive features such as an immersive film experience projected onto multiple screens which follow the seasons and explore why remembering is a basic human need.
The new Heroes’ Square features commemorative stones engraved with cap badges or crests of the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Air Force and City Livery Companies. A new sensory play garden, full of textures, scented foliage, and natural materials, offering another way to engage younger visitors, also opened at the end of October.
As visitors walk across the floor of part of the new attraction, green leaves magically transform into red poppies and people can upload their own stories onto a new national archive in a Memory Booth.
The building also features a new exhibition area, a larger restaurant and shop, as well as a separate coffee shop, and a cloistered courtyard with garden.
Lt Col David Whimpenny, Chairman of the National Memorial Arboretum board said; “Opening the doors of our new Remembrance Centre to the public marks the culmination of years of hard work and it is fantastic to see our compelling vision become a reality.
“We look forward to welcoming the many thousands of visitors that we are now capable of accommodating, thanks to the new facilities.”
The centre was made possible by a £2.85 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and follows a nine year fundraising campaign by The Royal British Legion.
The National Memorial Arboretum itself opened to the public in 2001 in a tranquil wooded parkland at the confluence of the River Tame and River Trent, on land previously used for gravel workings.
It’s a peaceful and emotive spot with more than 30,000 maturing trees where people can pay their respects to loved ones, learn about the past and reflect on the human cost of war.