How do we create, collect and display objects to remember our history? What can souvenirs (objects collected by soldiers to remember places they have served), and trophies, also known as spoils of war (objects taken from a campaign by a regiment and used to commemorate it), tell us about the experiences of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI) and Light Infantry (LI) regiments deployed abroad?
This online exhibition explores three different types of objects at Bodmin Keep which hold memories: souvenirs, commemorative objects and war trophies (objects taken, often by force and used by a regiment to represent their victory). It looks at why soldiers collect mementoes, how objects can tell wartime stories, and whose story is being told.
Many of the souvenirs and spoils in this exhibition are cultural objects that had a life before the military. Yet, when they enter a regimental museum collection, they often lose their original meanings and become symbols of the victories and defeats of the regiment. This exhibition hopes to reunite some of these objects with their history, exploring their significance before they were brought into the museum.
Objects collected during conflict can be memorials of violent or traumatic events. Some commemorate the strength and resilience of individuals. Others are reminders of the resourcefulness and creativity of people during times of hardship. The souvenirs and spoils that soldiers have chosen to bring home play an important role in how we remember some of the most challenging moments of history.