TransMusSites 14-45,
the development of a cross-border network of museums and sites commemorating the two World Wars

Remembrance website showcases collections from the two world wars conserved in about fifteen themed museums in West Flanders, the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments. This initiative has been carried out as part of INTERREG IV France-Wallonie-Vlaanderen, the European Union’s programme of co-operation known as 'Transmussites 14-45', developing a cross-border network of museums and sites around the 14-18 and 39-45 Wars'.

This project aims to develop a cross-border network of museums and sites around the two World Wars. The total budget comes to €2,248,525 (financed to the amount of 50% by the European Union).

This project brings together six French and Flemish partners from either side of the border: the Nord department, project leader, the Pas-de-Calais department, the Province of West Flanders, the town of Harnes, the Villeneuve d’Ascq and Mélantois Historical Society (1944 Ascq Memorial) and Fort Seclin.

The three local authorities (the Province of West Flanders, the Nord department and the Pas-de-Calais department) wished to develop a cross-border network of museums and sites linked to the two World Wars. The project builds on the experience of the Province of West Flanders which already has the ‘War and Peace in Westhoek’ network, structured around the First World War, thereby taking it to a cross-border scale, by growing to include Second World War sites and museums.

This European project aims to:

·         share resources and foster synergy between local cultural stakeholders

·         develop the cross-border exchange of visitors

·         share the history and memories of the two World Wars

This falls within a more global dynamic to develop tourism focused on Remembrance in these regions.

Each of the signatory partners is associated with and participates in carrying out the following objectives:

·         networking and sharing resources for the cross-border territory Memorial sites

·         establishing a global policy to promote the sites

·         promoting all available sources connected to the two World Wars

·    supporting the development of thematic museums by sharing expertise, professionalisation, inventories and conservation of collections thanks to shared tools

·         creating a network for stakeholders (working groups) to further sharing of experiences and organising regular,     shared, cultural and tourist events and acts

·       developing an improved flow of cross-border visitors to the heart of the structures, sites and museums in the concerned areas

·         using a shared methodology and software to take an inventory and create a network of the museum collections


For all six partners, these objectives translate into concrete actions developed by the European co-operation project ‘Transmussites 14-45’:

·        Take an inventory and promote the Remembrance landscapes: as the landscape is recognised as the last witness to the Great War, we must preserve it and help people in all three regions understand it. By pooling their experiences of inventory taking, preserving and promoting the remembrance landscapes linked to the two conflicts, the partners have elaborated a communal approach and taken inventories of the landscape and promoted them via an itinerant exhibition ‘Landschap in, Métamorphose du paysage.

·     Organise local and exchangeable cultural events and exhibitions across the cross-border region as well as a network of museum projects. Museums in the cross-border network have developed communal, itinerant, bilingual or even trilingual exhibitions, directly linked to their collections.

·         Take an inventory of the specialised collections, professionalise staff and showcase thematic museum collections.  The museums will be professionalised in several ways:

      ·      A policy to initiate taking inventories :
The Nord department, Pas-de-Calais department and Province of West Flanders have shared the work of taking an inventory of the collections through purchasing joint software. This approach thereby allows them to preserve the existing registers, easily manage the movement of objects and create an innovative, transnational database.

    ·        A policy to collect living memory:
The region is rich in memory and testimonials of 20th century events: to this end a research contract was awarded to the GERiiCO laboratory (Group for Studies and Interdisciplinary Research into Information and Communication) from the University of Lille III to carry out a study and record the memories of those who bear this intangible heritage before they disappear, as well as collectors (military objects, amongst others).

   ·         A policy to equip and organise the sites and museums:
The themed museum collections have been showcased by helping to buy museum furniture (for example, display cases), preventive conservation materials and mediation tools.