History of the museum
At the beginning of the Normandy Victory Museum
Three founding members driven by the same passion
The Normandy Victory Museum is the result of the meeting in 2016 of three history enthusiasts: Patrick Fissot, history professor (and author of several books including “D-Day, 70 jours pour libérer la Manche“). Christophe Beaussire, manager and Nicolas Bellée, chartered accountant. Three collectors driven by the same desire, to set forth the Hedgerows hell which marked their department so much, and pay tribute to those who courageously fought to deliver the Channel from the German yoke, military as civilians.
A personal historical collection serving the public
Patrick Fissot and Nicolas Bellée are already great collectors when they join forces for this great museum project. Their respective personal collections are impressive and between 2004 and 2014, they mounted some large temporary exhibitions which earned them recognition from the community and the public. Building on these successes, they began to develop a museum project in 2015.
In 2016, they were joined by Christophe Beaussire, and also a passionate collector of military vehicles. He owns a building in the municipality of Catz (Carentan-les-marais) which he rented from the owner of the Tank Museum and who unfortunately sees its closure announced. This freed space will be the ideal place to install the collections of the three men and to share them with the widest audience.
A moving inauguration in the presence of General Poppas
On May 19, 2017 after long months of effort, the museum opens to the public and it is on June 02, 2017 that the inauguration of the Normandy Victory Museum will take place in the presence of General Poppas, commander of the 101st American Airborne Division. A presence rich in symbolism as we know the importance of this airborne division which liberated the city of Carentan in June 44.
Five years later…
The museum seems to have conquered its public
The hard work of these three enthusiasts and their team has paid off and the figures show an audience conquered by the theme of the museum and the manner of presenting this important period of local history.
- 2017: 10,000 visitors
- 2018: nearly 20,000 visitors
- 2019: nearly 35,000 visitors, including a growing share of school.
- 2020/2021: despite the crisis, the number of visitors has been maintained thanks to French tourists and some Europeans and we thank them.
Encouraged by these figures and the very positive feedback from our visitors, the museum team continues to constantly improve its museum journey and to imagine new events for our public.
What was planned in 2020
- A new thematic exhibition “Women in war“
- Security conferences and events (Enigna conference); alternative events in the context of the health crisis: Ciné Driv’in on June 6.
March 2020, a brutal end and a battle to be waged
This beginning of 2020 will have shown us how fragile man is and how big he can be in adversity. The Covid crisis is such an ordeal that our generation and that of our children have never known. It allowed us to touch on a tiny fraction of what our elders have been through and forbade us all to give up.
This year, the museum could not reopen as planned at the end of March 2020, but we continued to work: improving the museum scenes, fitting out the exteriors, enriching our collections, postponing conferences, organizing ceremonies virtual like “Bells of Freedom” ou “Our Ciné Drive from June 6 “.
We also redesigned the website and set up an online reservation system which allowed us to receive you as soon as we received authorization. The summer months have allowed us to receive many of you. Unfortunately the health situation forced us to close again. Although our teams are small, we continue to work: redesign of our E-commerce site (to find online all the products sold in stores), fittings and decoration of the entrance to the museum, finishes in the Greenfield room intended to receive cultural events and professional and private meetings.
2021, we were looking forward to you and you are back
For our part, the projects continued to flourish. The store has been redesigned. The Greenfield Hall has been completed and has already seen many events go by.
2022: the museum is celebrating its fifth anniversary!
The museum has evolved a lot since 2017 and the constantly increasing number of visitors as well as your enthusiastic opinions show us that we have been able to meet your expectations and confirm to us that it is necessary to always improve and surprise our visitors. This is why in 2022 we have planned major changes:
After a few months of work, the museum reopened in March 2022 with two new stages:
Large-scale and daring work to bring an authentic landing craft into our little museum! But it has returned and is now integrated into the visit route. Walkers are invited to go inside and then sit down to watch a film of a few minutes made especially for the museum. In an original format, mixing archive images and animations, you can listen to the testimony of one of the first soldiers to have landed at Omaha Beach. A realization that makes the film accessible to all audiences.
The P-47 Thunderbolt
It was one of the recognizable elements of the museum. the P-47 which was parked outside also entered the museum. It was actually a life-size model, made by an artist, Patrik Letouzé, and we were worried about its preservation. That’s why we installed it indoors, sheltered from the weather. Now the P-47 is highlighted in a crash scene in the middle of the bocage. This painting was produced by several members of the museum team who were able to stage it with subtlety and with respect for historical details.
The “Portraits of veterans” exhibition expands
This exhibition by Florent Plana, guide speaker and author of nearly 900 interviews with veterans, was set up in 2021. In addition to photo portraits and written testimonies, videos are now being installed in different places in the museum. In addition, Florent was still in the United States at the beginning of 2022 to interview other veterans whose testimonies will enter the museum later this year.
Deployment of the audioguide application (free of charge)
The entire route can now be followed on a smartphone. Each scene has a Qr code that you just have to scan to read or listen to the description in different languages. The application also offers additional content for the most curious of our visitors and some small games to entertain the youngest.
Easy to use: the visitor just has to scan a Qr code which takes him directly to the application and then he lets himself be guided. Headphones are required to hear the audio notes and for those who have forgotten them, the museum offers headphones at cost price (1€)
A new activity: historic tours in a vintage Dodge
Florent Plana is once again collaborating with the museum and this allows us to offer you two guided tours around the museum.
The first takes visitors in small groups in a vintage military vehicle (Dodge) to the side of the A10 Airfield (American military airfield) for a 40-minute guided tour.
The second tour begins in the footsteps of the 101st Airborne around Carentan, for a guided tour of 1h15
A small team 100% passionate
- Patrick FISSOT (Founding member)
- Christophe BEAUSSIRE (Founding member)
- Nicolas BELLEE (Founding member)
- Godefroy BEAUSSIRE (Museum director)
- Elsemiek Dekker (Reception and shop manager)
- Frédéric RAULINE (Museum decorator)
- Florent Plana (manager of Dodge tours and veterans exhibition)
- Cécile JEANNE (Webmaster, digital project manager)