A visit to this famous museum based on the momentous events of the doomed Operation Market Garden during nine days from 17 - 25 September 1944 is a must for anyone with the slightest interest in history and specially in the history of WW2.
You may have seen the film "A Bridge Too Far" or read books about it but this is where the real action took place - in the peaceful village of Oosterbeek and the parklands of the Hotel Hartenstein which became the H.Q.of the British Divisional Commander, Major General R. Urquhart. and is now the Museum.
The reconstructed Bridge is just over 3 miles away in Arnhem and is known as the John Frost Bridge after the Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Parachute Brigade who attempted to establish a bridgehead to lead the ground forces into Germany.
In the event a combination of adverse factors turned this action into one of the most tragic episodes of that terrible war, not only in the appalling loss of life in the air and on the battlefied but also to the people of Arnhem and the surrounding area who suffered dreadfully. After bombarment and the loss of their homes those who survived had to battle through one of the harshest winters on record. Many lacked shelter, food, and fuel. The suffering was pitiable.
The Museum recounts this history with a large collection of memorabilia, audio and visual displays including interviews with survivors, letters, photographs and film.
In the recently restored building the cellars have been opened up to create the "Arnhem Experience" which chillingly reproduces some of the sounds, sights and sensations of what it must have been like to be at the Battle of Arnhem.
There are good facilities at the Museum including disable access to some areas and a lift.
The shop on the ground floor has a good stock of historical books , maps and quality souvenirs.
The staff were very friendly and helpful.
There is no cafe but your entrance ticket provides 5% Discount at a number of nearby cafes and restaurants.
Summer Opening Hours - 10am -5pm. Sundays and Holidays 12noon -5pm
In winter on weekdays the Museum opens at 11am.
Closed Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Adults 8 Euros
Seniors, CJP card & Students 7 Euros
Young people 13 - 18 5 Euros
Children 6 -12 3Euros 50
You should allow at least 2 hours for your visit.
For details on how to get there please see separate Transporttion Tip.
In September 1944 more than ten thousand British and Polish Airbome troops fought in and around Arnhem. Their objective was to take the Rhine bridge. Six hundred of them managed to reach the bridge. Waiting for reinforcements they fought for four days holding the Northern ramp. The rest of the force, however, didn't succeed in reaching them. Those held out for five more days at Oosterbeek before finally making their way across the Rhine to Allied held ground. Only 2.293 made it back to England.
During the battle the Hartenstein hotel in Oosterbeek was the headquarters of the British divisional commander, Major-Genera R.E. Urquhart. The Airborne Museum is situated in this very building. There you can follow the events of the battle as they materialised: from the air landings, the march to the bridge, the fierce fighting in Arnhem and Oosterbeek, to the crossing of the river. British and German arms, equipment and ammunition, abandoned at Arnhem some dug up in later times, authentic film footage, true to life dioramas and an audiovisual presentation make a penetrating picture of the tragedy for which Amhem and Oosterbeek were the stage in September 1944.
Whatever you do: do not, I repeat do not forget !!! to take a walk around the Museum, there are maps available in the museum . WARNING: This walk will not make you very happy, you can actually feel the pain of those who fought here, you can almost smell their fear and hear their screams... But to my opinion this little walk was the most impressive hour of my life. And probably will be for quite a while. (TIP: visit this museum in the autumn, that makes it even more impressive.)
By the way: This museum has got a much bigger display of weapons, diorama's, maps, videos, etc. etc. than the other WWII museum.
The Airborne Museum 'Hartenstein'
The Museum shows the course of events during the Battle of Arnhem. It took place in September 1944 and covered the area between the centre of Arnhem and Ede. The 'Battle for the Rhine Bridge' was part of the operation 'Market Garden'. British, American and Polish airborne forces were to capture the bridges over rivers and waterways from the Belgian border to Arnhem.
The Airborne Museum was founded in 1949 in tribute to the British and Polish Airborne Troops.
stand next to the museum and a Sherman tank is a reminder of the definitive liberation of Oosterbeek in April 1945.
Until 1978 it occupied part of Doorwerth Castle, when a perfect accomodation was obtained in the former Divisional Headquarters, HARTENSTEIN at OOSTERBEEK.
Major-General R.E. Urquhart C.B. D.S.O., who commanded the division in 1944, reopened the expanded museum himself on May 11. 1978.
A large model of the area with spoken commentary and slides as well a comprehensive number of photographs with detailed captions illustrate the course of the battle.
In addition, a large collection of original weapens and equipment of both allied and German origin is on display.
In the basement various scenes of the battle are depicted in dioramas with much attention to historical accuracy and detail.
Hartenstein is situated in a large park which is open to the public.
Located in a suburb of Arnhem is the Hotel Hartenstein. During Operation Market Garden the hotel was the HQ of the British commanders.
Now it's been converted into a museum, mainly covering the Battle of Arnhem, full of interesting artefacts. In the basement are wax dummies portraying the besieged British commanders in their actual location in the battle. Very atmospheric.
Airborne Museum at Hartenstein, Oosterbeek near Arnhem. The villa Hartenstein was the HQ of the allied military command during Operation Market Garden (1944).
A Polish officer in uniform.