King Willem-Alexander opens the National Military Museum

December 11, 2014

King Willem-Alexander today opened the National Military Museum (NMM) at Soesterberg Airbase Park. Accompanied by the music of the Royal Military Band, impressive cannon shots and the loud cries of military personnel, the last part of the NMM logo was lowered from the 17-metre high ceiling. The King thus completed the logo and declared the museum officially opened. The National Military Museum in an impressive 35,000 square metres gives the public the opportunity to come into contact with personal, true stories from various periods, illustrated by an extensive and actually used collection of the Dutch Armed Forces. This collection - ranging from armour-plated vehicles, helicopters, fighter planes and tanks to uniforms, paintings, old printed materials and implements - represents the merger of objects from the Military Aviation Museum in Soesterberg and the Armed Forces Museum in Delft. The museum will open its doors to the public during the weekend of 13 and 14 December.

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King Willem-Alexander today opened the National Military Museum (NMM) at Soesterberg Airbase Park. Image: ANP

Peace not self-evident

King Willem-Alexander entered the impressive museum along a line of 100 soldiers representing the four branches of the Dutch Armed Forces, and was welcomed by various officials, including the Minister of Defence Mrs J. Hennis-Plasschaert. After the introductory speech by the museum’s director Hedwig Saam and a speech by Paul van Vlijmen, director of the umbrella Defence Museums Foundation, the Minister gave a speech with the theme ‘One Single Life’. She covered subjects such as ‘People & Society’, ‘Key Role of the Military’ and ‘Respect’.

“Our armed forces are a future-oriented organization that is continually renewing itself. The long and moving history that characterizes the armed forces has undeniably resulted in the quality we see today.The National Military Museum reminds us that the army and the fleet form part of the oldest institutions of the Dutch State and this museum tells and pictorializes the story of our military past. That history matters and continues to pursue, engage, disturb, captivate, move and fascinate us. I consider this National Military Museum a recognition of the work done by the Dutch Armed Forces,” said Hennis-Plasschaert.

Her speech was followed by the official opening act and King Willem-Alexander was shown round the beautiful collection. Director Hedwig Saam: “The National Military Museum wants to convey that peace is not a self-evident circumstance and consequently illustrates the valuable role that the armed forces play in society. During the tour of the museum we also had the opportunity to explain to the King that the museum makes the link between the armed forces of then & now and today’s society visible.”

Unique Apache helicopter demo

Saturday 13 December and Sunday 14 December is the festive opening weekend for the public. “Having completed the hectic preparations, we are straining at the bit to open the doors to the public. There are a numerous additional activities, such as the unique Apache demonstration; everyone is therefore more than welcome,” said Van Vlijmen.
On Saturday 13 December at approximately 12:00, there will be an impressive demonstration of the Apache helicopter fighter (301 Squadron). The Apache Solo Display Team comprises two pilots, two coaches and seven technicians. The pilots fly at around 360 km/hour. However, aside from speed, the compact manoeuvres especially show what the fighter helicopter is capable of.

The Apache is of vital importance for the support of ground troops. The demo team members, as Air Force members, can be deployed for peace and security, such as during past years in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now in Mali. The show forms part of the public presentation by the Department of Defence designed to kindle enthusiasm in younger people to work for the Air Force.

Realization

Heijmans has realized the new National Military Museum (NMM) under contract to the Ministry of Defence. Over the next 25 years, Heijmans will work together with the Ministry on the success of the museum, on the basis of a DBFMO (Design, Build, Finance, Maintain & Operate) contract. Heijmans integrated all of its disciplines in this project and also involved external partners. Project team members focused their expertise on core activities ranging from architecture and the museological fit-up to security and catering.