The collection comprises authentic war materials used by occupying forces and the allied forces, either retrieved from the battlefield itself or of a dated and identified type that is known to have actually been used at Arnhem.
The Airborne Experience and the dioramas of the British headquarters and the casualty station in the museum are almost entirely composed of original objects: uniforms, emblems, weapons and ammunition, tools, personal belongings, etc.
The museum also has various audio-visuals on the Battle of Arnhem, obtained from ‘Oral History’ projects.
The museum collects the oral testimonies in the form of oral sources of both servicemen and civilians. In the years to come, the emphasis will be on German and civilian stories, which are currently under-represented in the collection. The Hall of Fame contains a comprehensive collection of medal sets of British, Polish and Dutch veterans, to which new sets are added from the estate of deceased veterans each year.
The museum also has a comprehensive library, a documentation collection, a photograph collection, and an archive.
Finally, commemoration materials of the Battle of Arnhem and of the villa, the former Airborne Division headquarters and the Airborne Museum Hartenstein, are collected in order to study and present the history and how it has been received.
The collection is made up of approximately 10,000 objects (WWII vehicles, weapons and ammunition, uniforms, medals, emblems, equipment, etc.).
The photograph collection comprises negatives, individual photographs and albums of photographs. There are portrait photographs, group photographs, aerial photographs, and photographs of military objects, war sites and events.
The documentation collection comprises maps, propaganda material, posters, letters, war diaries, transcripts of interviews with civilians and servicemen, reports and records of the various military units of the British Airborne Division, newspapers, personal documents, military instructions, etc.
The museum´s library contains hundreds of books on Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem. The collection includes early, very rare, editions. Our earliest edition dates from December 1944. These rare editions are part of the collection and are therefore kept separate from the library that is accessible to the public (by appointment).
The audio-visual collection has been partially registered and digitized. The Gelders Archief is currently digitizing the single 8, 8 mm, super 8, 16 mm films and the V2000, VHS, Betamax and U-matic videotapes into high-quality files on 10-bit uncompressed main file and reference MPEG4 and audio in WAV as main file and reference MP3.
Cultural historical value
An object’s place of recovery is what makes it unique and irreplaceable. The museum has information about exactly when and where many of its objects were used, and sometimes even by whom. Virtually all the WWII material that has been found is now in the collections of museums, private persons, and WWII researchers. Unfortunately, inheritance often leads to objects from WWII and veterans’ personal items regularly ending up on the collector’s market, where they are sold for exorbitant prices. This makes the decision to donate to a museum harder for the next of kin. However, it remains crucial that important items keep being added to the Netherlands’ collection. The Airborne Museum is an officially registered museum (and a member of the Netherlands Museums Association, (NMV)) and is therefore bound by the national agreements concerning the acquisition, management and maintenance of museological objects, and in rare cases, is responsible for their selective divestment according to the LAMO guidelines on divesting museological objects. The museum is also a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and operates under the Code of Conduct for Museological Professional Ethics, also for the acquisition of collection items.
Use of the collection
The collection of objects, documents, literature and photographs is used for study, educational, and pleasure purposes. We aspire to make the collection accessible to the public through the AdLib collection registration programme. The collection is accessible to researchers. The Airborne Museum frequently cooperates in research, publication and media presentation projects. National and foreign media regularly ask the museum to help with radio and television broadcasts, interviews and articles. Many members of the Friends of the Airborne Museum Oosterbeek Society ’ are researchers who also use the museum’s collections and the staff’s knowledge. Researchers are always accompanied by our informed staff. This means that the collection can only be consulted by appointment.
In the context of loaning items, the Airborne Museum cooperates with regional, national and international museums and other WWII museums, which regularly ask the Airborne Museum to cooperate in their projects. Furthermore, some items – such as parachutes, containers, supply baskets, uniforms, transmitting equipment, etc. – are used for educational purposes.