01 May 2020: Although the Country cannot come together to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday, May 8, 2020, it is not stopping the members of ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) celebrating in a variety of ways. These range from Singing & Dancing to understanding which laws were passed during World War II to hearing and seeing how the people of the time experienced the day.

Bernard Donoghue (Director) of ALVA, explains; “As all our members are currently closed, they are working hard to keep at the forefront of people’s minds through a variety of imaginative and creative digital experiences that commemorate VE Day and can be enjoyed from home during the Bank Holiday Weekend.”

He continues: “Some members will be celebrating how their property, residents and key items in their collections played an important role in the War, others will be commemorating through music whether it be the ringing of bells or joining in with a performance of We’ll Meet Again.”

The National Military Service Museums which include The National Museum of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Museum (as well as the Army Museum) will be hosting their first tri-service celebration with the Virtual VE Day 75 Festival taking place online from Thursday to Saturday offering Free virtual events that bring WW2 to life, for the nation at home including live debates and activities encouraging members of the public to get their gardens and homes decorated and prepare for a VE Day party as well a live Swing Dance Class followed by a sing-along concert with the Bluebird Belles.

The Old Royal Naval College will be ringing their bells on Friday to celebrate VE Day. The bells are very loud and should be heard by the local Greenwich community.

Via their Facebook page Durham Cathedral will be broadcasting a special pre-recorded service at 6pm on the Friday. Join the Dean of Durham for prayers in the DLI Garden before their cathedral organist, Daniel Cook, performs a rendition of We'll Meet Again, with musical accompaniments from the cathedral's choral scholars.

Continuing the musical theme, on Friday, English Heritage is calling on the nation to Dance for VE Day. At midday, learn to dance 1940s-style on English Heritage's social media channels with professional lindy hop dancers, while at 5pm they will be inviting everyone to Dance for VE Day with the help of a swing-time troupe and band. English Heritage are also offering a special VE Day 75 pack with dance-steps, music and recipes available. The Southbank Centre will mark VE Day by pointing audiences online to Britten's War Requiem at the Royal Festival Hall featuring the Royal Academy of Music and National Youth Choir of Great Britain, conducted by Marin Alsop. The original performance commemorated 100 years since the start of World War One and featured hundreds of young performers – the content will be available via You Tube and highlighted in Gillian Moore’s ‘Culture Pick” – a new blog series.

As part of a wider WW2 hub on their website, UK Parliament has partnered with Royal Holloway to produce free videos and resource packs to help 5-18-year-olds learn about laws which were passed during World War II, including rationing and the evacuation of children. Imperial War Museums will be marking this national anniversary by sharing first hand testimonies of the end of World War II from their diverse sound archive. Voices of War will be released on IWM’s website and social media channels on Friday and will echo how families heard that war in Europe had ended on the wireless; in kitchens and living rooms, bedrooms and gardens around the nation. People will hear voices ranging from an army nurse who served in Egypt at the time and a Jamaican aircraftsman who emigrated to the UK aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948, to a Jewish man from Berlin who spent six weeks in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Commissioned contemporary artistic responses to the end of World War II and its resonance today will also be released on the IWM website and social media channels on the day. These responses, ranging from spoken word performances to music and poetry, will question our understanding of what victory means and reinterpret these pivotal moments in our history for contemporary audiences. Accompanying this, IWM is producing two new videos and challenges for children and families in their digital programming series, focusing on VE Day.

The Science Museum will be sharing stories from their collection across their social media channels to explore the impact of the war on science, medicine, technology and engineering. They will be sharing online stories about War and Medicine, where readers can discover how the needs of soldiers on the frontline led to innovations in medical care, from triage to prosthetics. Through objects from the Science Museum Group Collection they will be exploring how, during the Second World War, faster and better treatment meant that more soldiers with serious neck and spinal injuries survived, as well as the story behind the UK's first specialist unit for treating spinal injuries, formed in 1943 at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, that became a leading centre for neurosurgery. The hospital would later become the birthplace for what is now known as the Paralympic games. They will also be sharing stories exploring the international co-operation at the heart of breaking the Engima Machine, and the incredible work done by Alan Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park that helped turn the tide of the war effort.

National Museums Scotland will be marking VE Day by sharing stories from their collections revealing the impact of the war across Scotland. Alongside exploring unique objects from the National War Museum, they will be sharing personal accounts of wartime experience from East Fortune Airfield – the UK’s best-preserved Second World War airfield and the site of the National Museum of Flight. These include video interviews with Eric “Winkle” Brown, the most decorated pilot in the history of the Royal Navy and female Spitfire pilot Joy Lofthouse. From their archive they will present an online photo exhibition of wartime life, as well as revealing the hidden war history of Wester Kittochside Farm, staffed by German prisoners of war, and now the site of the National Museum of Rural Life.

The Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands will be bringing its permanent galleries online for digital visitors to view to commemorate VE Day. Films with personal accounts about London during the Blitz and footage from Black Saturday in 1940 showing a heavily damaged Royal Docks will be available to view on their social channels. They will also be showing images from their archive that mark the Blitz and the war effort throughout World War II.

The National Railway Museum will have a mini online exhibition telling the stories of the various ways the railways were involved in WW2 and VE Day, as well as a series of classic railway posters with the ‘stay safe stay home’ message. Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic will unveil some Shipyard Stories detailing Titanic, Nomadic and Belfast maritime links to WW2 in a short video on their social channels to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Many country houses and churches played an important role during the war and several are commemorating their famous residents such as Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, will be sharing specific VE Day quotes, videos and content on their website; while the website of Harewood House (Yorkshire) investigates the role the house played, together with its inhabitants, during the First and Second World Wars. At both times, Harewood House was turned into an auxiliary hospital, to care for the sick and wounded who came back from war. The Walled Garden was a key part of the 'Dig for Victory' campaigns, providing food to the local community and the 7th Earl, George, was a Prisoner of War during World War II, held in Colditz and narrowly escaping a death warrant signed by Hitler. Waddesdon will be posting on their social channels about 100 evacuee children from London who stayed at Waddesdon during the war. They will also be sharing the story of how James and Dorothy de Rothschild after hearing about the Kindertransport sponsored 30 boys from a school in Frankfurt to come to the UK, finding them a house in Waddesdon village. The Horniman Museum and Gardens will be sharing a blog highlighting what happened at the site during WWII and The Churches Conservation Trust will be sharing the story St Giles’ Church, Imber, which stands in the midst of the Salisbury Plain via a blog post. The village of Imber was evacuated to be used for military operations in 1943 in the lead up to the D-Day landings and has remained with the Ministry of Defence ever since, except for St Giles’, which came into the CCT’s care in 2005.

The National Trust will commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day across the week, as part of the charity’s regular weekly programme of digital content. On Treasure it Tuesday, there is the opportunity explore stories from the places looked after by the National Trust that have World War II connections online. Learn about objects in the Trust’s collections and share your own treasured WW2 items on the charity’s social media channels. On Thursday, discover stories of kitchen gardens, allotments and other growing spaces that the National Trust cares for that were used as part of the Dig for Victory campaign. And delve into war-era gardening books for top tips as part of the charity’s regular From our garden to yours Q&A with their gardening experts on the National Trust website and social channels. The charity will also have another fun-packed Weekend Challenge for families and supporters of all ages – with Special VE Day celebration activities and favourite National Trust recipes to try out and share.

Many other members such as the British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Royal Collection Trust, Royal Academy, V&A Dundee, Kew Gardens and Oxford University's Gardens, Libraries and Museums will be launching new and exciting content for the Bank Holiday Weekend.

For further information on ALVA, please visit
or follow on Twitter @Alva_UK

Notes to Editors
ALVA members are the UK's most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions. The 57 ALVA members manage some nearly 2,200 tourist sites and normally welcome over 119 million domestic and overseas visitors each year; some 28% of the visits made annually in the United Kingdom.

For further Press Information and to arrange interviews, please contact
Rachel Aked
[email protected]
Tel: 07790 732448
May 2020

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