Tinker imagineers has renewed the successful and internationally acclaimed Airborne Experience this year at the Airborne Museum in the Netherlands. An 800m² immersive exhibition that was originally designed by Tinker in 2009. Due to the coronavirus, everything came to a standstill, but the museum is running at full speed again. In the new design, visitors will get a first-person impression of the Battle of Arnhem, scene by scene. In a small group of people, you feel part of the huge airborne operation and battle that took place near Arnhem in September 1944, exactly 76 years ago. History is brought to life through a state-of-the-art combination of realist decors, overwhelming authentic footage, and light and smoke effects.
Visitors board a glider, sit down, and are briefed about the mission. Through the windows, you witness the plane being towed in England – and then the benches start rocking, the fuselage squeaks and creaks, you hear the voices of brave and frightened soldiers. After landing, you walk onto the hectic landing grounds. An operation that has begun in good spirits soon turns into a nightmare, however, as you witness the fights with German troops.
Light, image, and sound are integral parts of the experience. What’s new is that these ‘special effects’ are cleverly coordinated for a more intense total experience. Quiet moments alternate with fierce scenes. Suddenly, you find yourself in the middle of heated fighting in the streets of Arnhem in the 1940s, and you are held at gunpoint. The light is ominous, you hear the sounds of a devastating war: gunshots, explosions, English cries, German orders, the fear of people in hiding. You approach the Arnhem bridge and follow the retreat of the Allies to the area around the museum, Hotel Hartenstein, before the bloody final battle. You witness how the soldiers, after sustaining heavy losses, eventually have to retreat to the other side of the Rhine.
Your visit ends on a reflective note when you pass under an installation of dozens of field crosses and wonder why people continue to wage war.
For the renewed museum exhibition, Tinker Imagineers also created an impressive film room in which the complex story of the battle is explained in a clear and contemporary way with projection mapping on three different walls.
Exhibition ‘Airborne Experience’
Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek
Photos: Mike Bink