RAF Museum – A Royal Opening
The revamped RAF Museum London has officially reopened following a ceremony attended by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex. The multi-million pound project to transform the RAF Museum has been carried out as part of the centenary celebrations of the Royal Air Force.
The Museum’s ambitious redevelopment features new immersive galleries, supported by a transformed visitor experience which includes a new learning centre, new landscaping drawing on the heritage of the London Aerodrome and RAF Hendon, a new visitor centre including a café and shop, and a new restaurant housed in a 1930s RAF building at the heart of the site. The transformation makes the RAF Museum the only place where visitors can test their flying skills, explore RAF stories, sit inside an iconic cockpit and enjoy a picnic in a single day.
To mark the grand opening, His Royal Highness arrived in a 32 Sqn RAF helicopter before meeting members of the museum staff, volunteers and partners who worked on and supported the transformation. Other VIPs at the ceremony included Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier (RAF Chief of Air Staff), HE Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan (Ambassador of Kuwait) and Viscount Trenchard (grandson of the founding father of the RAF). Maggie Appleton, RAF Museum CEO, said:
“It was a pleasure and an honour to have The Earl of Wessex open our transformed London site in the RAF’s Centenary year. Our new exhibitions not only explore the Royal Air Force’s extraordinary history and people, but also give visitors the opportunity to look ahead into the cutting-edge future of the service. The Museum’s transformation is a celebration of the RAF’s breadth and diversity – and we look forward to welcoming visitors from London and beyond to experience it with us.”
The museum, which is free to enter, is home to the Duke of Cambridge’s Sea King helicopter, from his days as a pilot in RAF Valley. In addition, three new innovative galleries explore the first 100 years of the RAF, its roles today and invite visitors to imagine its future contribution and technology.
A digital project, ‘RAF Stories’, has also been developed through which the public will be encouraged to create and curate their own online scrapbooks using photographs, memories, film and audio recordings to share their experiences or those of their loved ones within the RAF and the broader RAF family. These stories will be shared internationally online as well as being embedded in the new exhibitions, enhancing the Museum’s storytelling
The RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme is supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The HLF invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the HLF, said:
“As a pioneer and leader of international aviation, and in its Centenary year, the Royal Air Force deserves a world-class museum. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, visitors can explore the powerful, inspiring and often surprising stories of the world’s oldest independent air force in a dynamic new setting.”
Following the royal opening, the museum celebrated Armed Forces Day on Saturday 30 June with an outdoor concert, craft activities, talks, tours, storytelling and more activities for all the family.
By instigating these improvements to the RAF Museum, visitors will be able to reflect on RAF achievements to date, celebrate the work it is currently doing and look forward to the next 100 years. To find out more about the museum and the upcoming centenary programme, please visit RAFMuseum.