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November 11, 2020

Reflecting on the Role of Military Museums on Veterans'​/ Remembrance/ Armistice Day

By Dr. Brad King

Lord Cultural Resources has been planning military museums since the company was founded nearly 40 years ago. Since I joined the firm in 2000, I’ve been privileged to work on over 25 military museum projects around the world. In honour of Remembrance Day, we thought it would be a good time to revisit where military museums have been and where they are going.

Military museums have been, and to some extent still are, stereotyped as male-oriented glorifiers of war and conflict. Because they are usually collection-focused institutions, some believe that are all about military hardware. Others think that they spread propaganda, or that they contribute to the militarization of society. These unfortunate characterizations persist, although the perception is rapidly changing.

While there are always outliers, leading military museums are active, dynamic and engaging institutions. At their best, modern military museums are about people and societies. They explore the impact of war and conflict and communicate its reality. Far from spreading propaganda, they help immunize the population against it and raise critical and relevant questions about war and military history. They are, in every sense, in line with museum industry trends toward personal stories, contested narratives, representation of formerly under-represented groups and a focus on interactive and engaging experiences, among other things. For all these reasons, military museums are far more popular than they once were, and more popular with a broader segment of the museum-going public.

Brad King

As Vice President with Lord Cultural Resources, Brad King oversees a number of the firm’s planning and implementation services. Having led or contributed to more than 200 museum planning projects in over 15 countries since joining Lord in 2000, he is an experienced, versatile and knowledgeable  consultant who consistently demonstrates an ability to see through to the heart of a particular issue or problem.

Brad works in both management consulting and museum exhibition development and has particular specializations in master planning, collection analyses, business planning and museum learning strategies. He brings a wealth of national and international experience to his work and has led or had a major role in numerous museum planning projects in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

Brad holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Toronto and is a frequent presenter at museum and academic conferences. He is the author of chapters in The Manual of Museum Learning (1st ed., 2007) and The Manual of Museum Planning (3rd ed., 2012 :  Chapter 5, “Understanding Collections ) and is co-editor of The Manual of Museum Learning (2nd ed. 2016).