This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands conflict, which began with the Argentine invasion on 2 April 1982. The Museum’s digital exhibition “Remembering the Falklands: 40 Years On” explores the experiences of REME personnel during the conflict and serving on the islands in the following years.

Developing a digital exhibition proved a very different experience to producing an exhibition in a physical space. Rather than being limited by the types of material we can display, the multimedia interactive table on which it is hosted can hold various types of digital media files including images, text, video and audio. This means we can include digital versions of physical objects and documents, as well as materials that are naturally in a digital format. The best part is that the programming allows us to produce interactive versions of material that otherwise would simply sit behind a display case.

Image shows a table with screen inside, two wall panels above with dark blue backgrounds and white text

An early mock-up of our vision for the Falklands exhibition space in our Remembrance Gallery.

We decided to make the most of the opportunities provided by the programme on the table. For example, one aspect of the exhibition is an interactive map, which can be moved around to find information and photographs that really help to bring to life the landscape of the conflict. Visitors are able to magnify images for a closer look, something that many of us miss when we view photographs in print format.

Image shows someone pointing at a world map on a large screen

Creating the interactive map involved creating ‘hotspots’ which locate the media to a point on the map. This one opens to an interview of Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ian Corroyer REME, who travelled to the islands on LSL Sir Lancelot.

Yet making the exhibition digital did not change everything about the development process. One of the hardest parts was deciding what to include and what not to include (a regular dilemma for museum professionals in exhibition development). Within our collection we have a vast array of archival material relating to Operation Corporate, with operational diaries, journal articles, photographs and more, as well as some historic objects like the Volvo Bandwagn 202 (Snowcat), with which many who served at the time will be familiar.

We decided to centre the exhibition on the experiences of the REME personnel who served during and after the conflict. In particular we focus on how REME officers and soldiers used their ingenuity to overcome glaring organisational difficulties and adverse environmental conditions, as well as the legacy of the conflict on the islands and the Corps’ continued involvement there. Importantly, we also focus on those who gave their lives in this conflict. Thanks to the digital format, we were able to create virtual copies of Orders of Service, displayed alongside photographs of memorials and information on the lives and services of the men themselves.

Image shows an order of service, first page is red with black text "Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces, Falkland Islands Memorial 16th June 1996", second page has a list of names from 3 Para.

The Order of Service from a memorial service for the soldiers of 3 Parachute Regiment who died in the Falklands, 16 June 1996. E:08.0079.12.

One of the greatest benefits, however, was our ability to host an external exhibition alongside our own, without being restricted by physical space. “Everything Changed” is a photographic exhibition that shows a Falklander’s perspective of the conflict, from invasion and occupation though to liberation and aftermath. It was created by Graham Bound, who was a born on the Falkland Islands and was a journalist when Argentine forces invaded. When he realised he would be unable to publish his work under the occupiers, he recorded everything in journals and through photographs. We are delighted to be able to share a digital version of his very unique exhibition, the physical prints being displayed in The Falkland Islands Museum, Stanley.

Image shows men standing around with damaged buildings and debris all over the place, foggy background

An image from Bound’s exhibition. “Defeated but not yet in captivity, Argentine soldiers ran amok through Stanley on the night of 14/15 June, burning buildings and threatening their own officers. As British troops take control, the Argentines become prisoners of war.” © Graham Bound.

Both exhibitions opened on 21 April 2022, the anniversary of the first landings of British troops on South Georgia. Visit the REME Museum and take a look at our first digital exhibition now.

This article was written by Lucy Brown, Museum Assistant, and was published in The Craftsman on 1 June 2022.