A new exhibition examining Birmingham’s role in the First World War and the impact the war had on the West Midlands from new angles opens in the city this Friday (5th October).

Voices of the First World War is organised by the Voices of War and Peace World War One Engagement Centre, based at University of Birmingham and the Library of Birmingham.

The exhibition is formed from work carried out by community groups in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The work began in August 2014 as the centenary of WWI was commemorated, and shares previously untold stories alongside the findings of new research.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Films produced by local theatre and arts companies that address difficult subjects like the soldiers who were executed for desertion and cowardice
  • History of the football teams formed by ‘munitionettes’
  • Creative responses to changing attitudes towards disability during and after the war
  • Artistic work made by young people who researched the changes in society that came as a result of the war

Councillor Tristan Chatfield (Lab Weoley & Selly Oak), cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities, said: “Birmingham has been remembering how the armed forces defended our country during the First World War and the many citizens who died on the frontline, throughout this centenary.  The exhibition shows the wider impact the war had on our city and beyond, not just at the time but for decades that followed, in terms of how society ‘worked’.”

Dr Nicola Gauld, Co-ordinator for the Voices of War and Peace WWI Engagement Centre, at the University of Birmingham, added: “The work of community groups in the West Midlands and across the country since 2014 has helped improve our understanding of the Great War.  We are proud and excited to be able to showcase examples of this work which tells some untold and unknown stories about the war, from the experiences of injured soldiers returning to their home city and attempting to resume a ‘normal’ life to the traumatic effects the war had on children and the impact on women’s lives.”

All of the projects included in the exhibition were funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) First World War: Then and Now grants programme. Thanks to National Lottery players, since 2010 the HLF has funded over 2,000 WWI projects across the country. Each one has enriched and expanded our knowledge about the First World War.

Visit the Voices of the First World War exhibition:

Where: The Gallery, Floor 3, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2ND
When: Friday 5 October 2018 to Saturday 5 January 2019
Opening hours: 11am to 7pm (Mon-Tues) and 11am to 5pm (Wed-Sat)
Cost: Free

For more information on the projects and other WW1 events across Birmingham, visit the Voices of War and Peace website. 


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