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renovated airborne museum invites children on an expedition through the story of watership down


One of our favourite projects gets an update! The successful Airborne Experience (2009), which brought the Battle of Arnhem to life, will be renewed and expanded. From 28 October to the middle of March 2020, the Airborne Museum Hartenstein will be closed for this renovation.

For the reopening, we are adding a new children's experience on the theme of Watership Down, Richard Adams’ famous novel from 1972 about the journey of a herd of rabbits and the colony they started. The subsequent outbreak of war with another colony was inspired by Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem. 

Sarah Heijsse, director of the Airborne Museum, explained the similarities in De Gelderlander newspaper. “Author Richard Adams, who died in 2016, worked as a brigade liaison in the Airborne Light Company of the Royal Army Service Corps during Operation Market Garden. The character of Hazel, the leader of the group of rabbits in Watership Down, was inspired by Adams' commanding officer, Major John Gifford. The character of Bigwig, the warrior in Watership Down, was based on Captain Desmond Kavanagh. He saved the lives of several of his comrades by covering them during a retreat after a German ambush in the forest outside Oosterbeek and paid for his heroism with his life. Kavanagh was buried at the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek.”  

The experience is designed for children between the ages of 7 and 12 and can be seen at Villa Hartenstein in Oosterbeek. Children go on an expedition through the pages of the book. As if they were rabbits themselves, they go on a search for the perfect colony. Only by working together will they find what they're looking for. At some points, the atmosphere is threatening, which is fitting for a war museum. It promises to be an exciting experience! For this exhibition, the museum has been  granted the use of the images of the Netflix Watership Down miniseries (a remake of the original cartoon from the 1970s) that was released last year.