An immersive experience, you wander into the streets of Europe, past shops selling shoes and cheese.
Interspersed with life-sized dioramas and replicas of weapons and uniforms are factual displays and propaganda posters.
Each government took a different tack, some focusing more on loyalty, others preying on fear.
Maps depict hundreds of miles of trenches along the German and Belgian borders. These barbaric tools are for hand to hand combat.
Mustard gas was deployed, so soldiers wore gas masks.
Dazzle was used as a form of camouflage by the Germans. I loved the notes about words that entered the vernacular because of WWI: bangers (because of their propensity to explode when heated if not pricked), snapshot, bonk, bloodbath, in the trenches, shooting yourself in the foot, and tank.
Photos accompany the exhibit. They are colorized, which I'd normally object to, but they work in this context.
There's nothing beautiful about war. And promises of a short intervention belie history. 1914: home by Christmas.
The map of Europe before the war resembles the board of Risk.
I'd watched a few nights ago as a bunch of peace-loving young men from Germany, Netherlands, Canada, and the US merrily rolled dice over Iceland and Madagascar, the Middle East and Kamchatka. War games require a sort of cognitive dissonance.
As Alex commented, maybe it's time to decolonize Risk. Tara mentioned there's a Lord of the Rings edition of Risk that she really enjoys. One ring to rule them all.
More info: http://www.greatwarexhibition.nz/
And here's the related exhibit at Te Papa: http://gallipoli.tepapa.govt.nz/