As a knowledge centre, the Airborne Museum is the only museum that tells the historical and socio-cultural story of the Battle of Arnhem.
The museum, intended for both national and international visitors, provides qualitative enjoyment and an important place for commemoration, this in a time of increasing interest in personally experiencing history and in authenticity.
The vision of the Airborne Museum
The Airborne Museum tells the story of the Battle of Arnhem. It is a clear and qualitative total concept developed from a multi-perspective. One of the museum’s important goals is to make the story of the Battle of Arnhem personal and tangible.
Airborne Museum Hartenstein is a centre for remembrance, a place where national and international visitors can reflect on the Battle of Arnhem and on the important role of this battle in World War II.
The Airborne Museum involves individuals, groups and organisations in its activities. Among its important goals are public and financial binding, a knowledge database (research) and policy development with respect to both the material and immaterial collections. The museum works in accordance with the ‘Code of Cultural Governance’ and the museum standard in its business operations and its museum activities. The Airborne Museum strives to achieve a healthy mix of public core tasks and cultural entrepreneurship.
The multi-perspective of Airborne Museum Hartenstein
What are the choices made by citizens and soldiers under the pressures of war and enemy occupation? The Airborne Museum wants to show, now and in the future, what motivated people during the Battle of Arnhem. What values did they cherish? With its multi-perspective, the museum wants to make the Battle of Arnhem current and relevant for diverse generations from all sorts of backgrounds. This will help visitors and involved parties relate to the people and events from the past. Important themes include hearing stories, gaining democratic skills, participating in commemoration ceremonies and participating in educational projects on historical locations.
The villa as it appears today was built around 1865.
Its owner at that time, the estate agent Th. Sanders, had all of the previous buildings torn down so that he could build a villa and a carriage house. In 1942 the municipality of Renkum became the owner of the property, and the building was used as a hotel. You can read more about the history of the villa here.
Biggest military operation on Dutch soil
In September 1944 the Allies launched Operation Market Garden, the biggest military operation on Dutch soil in World War II. They hoped to capture a number of bridgeheads, including the Rhine Bridge in Arnhem. On 17 September 1944 thousands of soldiers from the British 1st Airborne Division landed by both parachute and gliders on fields in Wolfheze and north of Heelsum, all at quite a distance from Arnhem. Some of the gliders also transported jeeps and anti-tank artillery. On
18 September another 1900 parachutists landed on Ginkel Heath near Ede and more gliders landed at Wolfheze. Leading the second battalion of the 1st Parachutist Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost reached the Rhine Bridge and held it during several days of heavy combat. However, most of the airborne troops failed to reach the bridge, and General Roy Urquhart was forced to set up his headquarters in Hartenstein Hotel.
After intense fighting in which many soldiers on both sides were killed or wounded, the British troops at the bridge had to surrender their position. On 26 September Hartenstein was abandoned as the remaining troops retreated across the Rhine. The Allies had lost the Battle of Arnhem, and Hartenstein remained behind in badly damaged condition.
Establishment of Airborne Museum
The Airborne Museum was established in 1949 and was originally housed in one of the outbuildings of Doorwerth Castle. In 1978 the Airborne Museum moved to Villa Hartenstein. It was reopened on 11 May 1978 by former commander General-Major Roy E. Urquhart.
Airborne at the Bridge
The Airborne Museum has an annex, Airborne at the Bridge, on the banks of the Rhine opposite the John Frost Bridge.
Airborne at the Bridge tells the story of the heavy combat at the Rhine Bridge in September 1944 from three different perspectives: the British lieutenant John Grayburn, the German Hauptsturmführer Viktor Eberhard Gräbner and the Dutch captain Jacob Groenewoud. Airborne at the Bridge opened its doors in March 2017. Prior to this, information about the battle could be found at the information centre ‘Slag om Arnhem’, which was located in the Social Housing building in Arnhem.
Various organisations have joined together to pass on the memories of the Battle of Arnhem to new generations. The Airborne Museum cooperates with these organisations.
Liberation Route Europe
Information centre De Polen van Driel
Municipality of Renkum
Province of Gelderland
Public Benefit Organisation (ANBI)
The Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’ is registered with the Dutch Tax Office as a Public Benefit Organisation (ANBI). As such, the museum is exempt from paying inheritance tax or gift tax on inheritances or gifts. Every euro from a contribution is earmarked for the museum. In addition, making a gift to an organisation with an ANWBI status has certain tax advantages.
The ANBI has no remuneration policy because all activities are done on a voluntary basis. The board members do not receive any holiday benefits.