09 September 2019

LEGO Menin Gate forms unique tribute at newly refurbished Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Information Centre in Ieper

A remarkable LEGO scale model of the CWGC’s most iconic memorial to the missing – the Menin Gate – is an eye-catching addition to the Commission’s newly refurbished information centre in Ieper.

The model took six months to complete and is made entirely from standard LEGO bricks, except the engraved panels above the Gate’s arches which are bespoke, as they bear the inscriptions author Rudyard Kipling chose for the memorial. 250 LEGO figures are depicted attending a Last Post ceremony, while the model itself is comprised of 54,000 bricks – one for every man named on the memorial.

Lego Menin gate at the Ieper visitors centre

But the model, built and kindly loaned to CWGC by Mr Jan Vanden Berghe, is no child’s toy. Forming part of a stunning new window display, it is a unique tribute to the more than 54,000 Commonwealth servicemen whose names are listed on the real memorial just a short distance away.

The LEGO model is just one element of the newly refurbished centre – which has attracted more than 40,000 visitors since it first opened in May 2017.

The centre also details some of the CWGC’s current campaigns, including Voices of Liberation – a unique online sound archive which preserves veterans’ and the public’s memories of the Second World War. For the first time, visitors can listen to some of the incredible and moving stories of the men and women who liberated Europe, via a reflective sound installation in the centre.

Front of the Ieper Visitors Centre

CWGC Interpretation Officer, Lucy Kellett, explained: “Based on feedback from our visitors, we’ve completely overhauled the information centre. We have created a much stronger link between the centre and the Menin Gate, as many people don’t realise we built it! We explain more about how the memorial came to exist and the meaning behind some of its artistic elements. We have also used this opportunity to tell the wider story of the CWGC’s work in honouring the 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead across the world. You’ll find some surprising facts and figures about the scale of our global commitment and learn more about the challenges we face in caring for such diverse sites."

The interpretive information in the centre will be supported by a series of talks from the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation Interns and a range of freely available literature designed to ensure visitors to Ieper get the most from their stay.

Lucy elaborated: “Our wonderful advisors, Marleen Devos and Hannes Leroy, are always happy to help undertake traces of our records or answer questions on our cemeteries and memorials. Visitors who might want to support our outreach programmes can sign up as a supporter of our charitable foundation or pick up a souvenir from our shop. We look forward to welcoming you.”

The newly refurbished Ieper Information Centre is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, 1pm to 9pm. On Friday and Saturdays 10am to 9pm.

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