Hooge Crater Museum

Museum of the First World War

As mentioned before, the museum, with lifelike reconstructions of war scenes, the vast collection of weapons, outfits and photographs, offers a great deal to the tourist, the collector and even the historian.

Origin of the crater
Origin of the crater

In the summer of 1915, the British positions around Hooge have become precarious. From their vantage point the Germans here have a good view over the British frontline. With a limited but well targeted attack, the British try to eliminate German strongholds. On 19 July 1915 they denonate a charge of 1,700 kilograms of explosives in a tunnel that had been driven by the special Tunnelling Companies of the Royal Engineers. Immediately after the explosion the allies rush the crater in order to consolidate their advance. Later it was referred to as 'the Hooge Crater'.

Origin of the museum
Origin of the museum

The small church in which the museum is established dates from the twenties of the 20th century. It was built across the road of Hooge Crater Cemetery in commemoration of the scores of soldiers killed here in the area during the first world war. In the years 1992-1993 the church and the adjacent community school were bought by the family De Smul-Ceuninck, thus saving the buildings from decay through thorough renovation. Inside the church is now the museum, while the former school houses the theme café. The museum Hooge Crater opened its doors on Easter 1994. From th first of January 2009, the museum has become the property of Niek and Ilse Benoot-Watteyne. It's a private war museum which exhibits World War One collections in an appropriate setting.

Hooge School
World War 1 Collections

The war museum houses collections of two people, first the curator Niek Benoot and second Philippe Oosterlinck, a keen collector of World War 1 material. The collections, which complete each other, comprise on the one hand the vast amount of weaponry from World War 1 and on the other hand uniforms and outfits of all armies taking part in the war. In glass cabinets are displayed rare military clothing of troops fighting in the Ypres Salient. Further there are lifelike scenes giving a genuine idea of what life was like during the war. These scenes range from German bunkers to British trenches and real size cavalry horses.

The weapons and other material are conveniently arranged according to country and army, and they are provided with information cards in four languages. The mere collection is something special because many of the artefacts displayed were owned already in 1919 by the Desmul family to be handed down from generation to generation, from grandfather to grandson. The collection is now owned by Niek Benoot. Since a few years ago there has also been an exhibition with all kinds of material dug up by 'The Diggers' in the 'Yorkshire Trench' at Boezinge. One of the trenches discovered there is on display in the museum. For the visitor wanting further information during his walk, there is a short historical outline audible in different languages. Furthermore, there ar panels showing unique private photo's, arranged according to the year and with information in four languages.

A Unique Tour
World War 1 Collections

To top it all, there is an original Ford T ambulance on display and a replica of a Fokker DR1 (triplane).

All in all, the museum enables every visitor to immerse into the life of a soldier at the front.

The newly opened wing is fitted to welcome groups, and the film projection room provides a unique view of battlefields near Hooge and in the Ypres Salient. Anyway, this exhibition was nominated for the Heritage Prize of the province of West-Flanders.

Visiting Hours

  • Monday : Closed
  • Tuesday : 10:00 > 18:00
  • Wednesday : 10:00 > 18:00
  • Thursday : 10:00 > 18:00
  • Friday : 10:00 > 18:00
  • Saturday : 10:00 > 18:00
  • Sunday : 10:00 > 21:00
  • Annual leave :
  • From 21/12/2020 to 01/02/2021


  • Adult : € 6,- p.p.
  • Student/Child : € 2,- p.p.
  • Adult (groups > 20p.) : € 4,- p.p.