Summer school for Graduate Students:First World War museums and exhibitions

26/06-01/07 2023, Péronne, Somme, France

Photo Aurélien Roger

The Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne which is both a museum and an international research centre, is 30 years old. It is the first museum structure devoted to the First World War based on historical research that goes beyond military history to encompass the societies and cultures of the belligerents in their entirety, approached in a comparative and global manner. The Historial has also benefited from an original and demanding architecture and museography.
Now that the centenary of the First World War has passed, we are at an exciting point in time to reflect on the history of how the conflict has been portrayed in museums and temporary exhibitions around the world, and its renewed relevance in the present.

The framework of this reflection will be a summer school welcoming about fifteen advanced masters and doctoral students, which will take place from 26 June to 1 July 2023. Since 2014, the Centre International de Recherches has been organising summer schools allowing young researchers to meet internationally recognised experts and to reflect and work together on the new areas of research on the Great War.

From 1914 onwards, and even more so after 1918, many traces of the war became memorials and museums in all the belligerent countries. Since then, on the one hand, so-called site museums have been set up on all the battlefields – the Historial in Péronne in the Somme is one such example – and on the other hand, museums that could be called “home front museums” intended to make the war known to those who had only seen it from a distance, in space, then, in time, nowadays. In addition, existing museums, particularly military museums or history museums, also opened new sections entirely devoted to the First World War shortly after 1918, in particular, based on trophies which have since undergone numerous changes. This patrimonialisation of the conflict has seen two new developments since the 1990s, with the return of the First World War to historiography and then the 2010s with the preparation of the centenary. New museums have been created, others have been reinvented or renovated, and above all, numerous exhibitions have been organised, including in cultural institutions that were previously little concerned – at least directly – with the Great War (libraries, art museums, archive centres, etc.). These exhibitions also play a central role in the museification of the First World War, especially as they also have a history that goes back to the conflict itself.
Moreover, the fact that the current war has already seen the emergence of a certain number of museums and temporary exhibitions in Ukraine, where one can say, as between 1914 and 1918, that they are also “battlefields”, between places of propaganda, relics display and mourning, will not fail to stimulate our reflection.

Battlefield sites are included in a cultural tourism – disaster tourism – Dark Tourism. These memorial-museums are both historical because they are central to the social science method. They are also often understood as works of memory. Thus the objects, from weapons to the personal possessions of the combatants and those close to them: they tell only one story, belonged to only one individual, and at the same time they are commonplace enough for everyone in the same group to have possessed such objects, always similar, always different. These objects are inscribed by the war which gives them a new meaning, an aura.
What is shown in these museums and their museography will be at the heart of our reflection, during visits and workshops where objects, photographs, works of art, films, catalogues of temporary exhibitions, etc… will be manipulated and studied.

Historial historians and curators who were part of the creation of the museum and established the catalogue will be present, as well as colleagues from other important museums in France (such as the Musée de l’Armée at Les Invalides), Roveretto in Italy, and Riga in Latvia, which should enable participants in the summer school to get behind the scenes of the First World War museum.

How it will work

The working languages of the Summer School will be English and French. In order to participate fully in the programme and in particular the guided tours, at least a passive knowledge of French is required.

In order to enable us to exchange efficiently, we will send participants a preparatory dossier to be read ahead of the summer school with archival excerpts and scientific articles.

We will cover accommodation (single or double room; shared bathrooms), transportation (from and to Paris), entrance fees for the different sites and most meals. Transport to and from Paris will need to be covered by the candidates and their home institution.

Organising committee

Nicolas Beaupré, Annette Becker, Caroline Fontaine, Franziska Heimburger.

Get in touch with the organisers by email:

How to apply

Eligible applicants: Advanced masters and PhD students.

Priority will be given to the following applicants:

  • Those working on subjects including the First World War
  • Those working on thesis or dissertation topics devoted to the heritage and museification of contemporary conflicts

The application (in English or French) includes a one-page summary of the research project and a one-page academic CV.

Applications must be submitted by midnight on 3rd March 2023 via our dedicated platform .


1- Create an account on the website, clicking on « Create account » in the top right-hand corner under “Login”.

2- Fill in the form, click on « register » and then activate the account when you receive the confirmation email.

3- Click on « My submissions » in the left-hand column and then « Submit a paper ».

4- Fill in the submission metadata. In the “Abstract” field, please tell us in a couple of paragraphs why you feel this summer school would be beneficial to you and what you could bring to it. When you reach the page for paper submission, please submit your project summary as “Paper” and your CV as “supplementary information” and make sure to click “upload” for each file.

We will notify applicants whether their application has been successful by 15th March 2023.

Franziska Heimburger

Franziska Heimburger est maître de conférences à Paris-Sorbonne. Elle travaille, à la suite de sa thèse, sur les langues et l'histoire, particulièrement en contexte guerrier.

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