A website by War Heritage Institute

The 14-18 Gallery

The 14-18 Gallery

The Great War

Two galleries dedicated to the First World War house the biggest and most diverse collection on the subject in the world. With the exception of Greece and Bulgaria all belligerent countries are represented. For some nations, such as Belgium, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Siam, or for the Czech legions, the objects presented here are truly exceptional and often unique.

A worldwide reference collection

The Royal Military Museum possesses one of the largest reference collections about the Great War in the world. The guns, machine-guns and armoured vehicles often still bear their original colours. The flame-throwers and the bombers testify to the new inventions and technical improvements appearing on the battlefield.     

Subjects such as the introduction of equipment in muted colours and the new personal equipment items (cuirasses, helmets) are also broached.

Different countries, different objects: weapons, uniforms and equipment pieces are completed with pictures and personal possessions.

Panoramisch zicht op zaal 14-18
The triumph of steel over man

The First World War was a turning point, both in terms of warfare and society as a whole. Whereas previously soldiers had worn bright, colourful uniforms, after 1914 they quickly adopted muted colors and new protective equipment. These developments are clearly illustrated in this Gallery.

The many inventions and technical innovations on the battlefield, often designed to break the deadlock of trench warfare, signify an industrialisation of warfare. This often results in very high casualties: the triumph of steel over humanity. Poison gas, flame throwers and bombers spread terror on the front, forcing both sides to find new and inventive defence techniques.


Panoramisch zicht op de zaal 14-18
Occupied Belgium

Contrary to their British or French colleagues the Belgian soldiers had no contact with their families. The major part of Belgium was indeed occupied by Germany for four long years and people suffered from the fierce regime, as is to be understood from bills, ration stamps and souvenirs related to overseas food supply.

The Royal Military Museum also safeguards an impressive art collection with regards to the First World War. Belgian and foreign artists have, each in their own way, illustrated life at the front, devastated landscapes, boredom in the POW and internment camps or the hardships endured by civilians.