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which almost brings the visitor full circle to where
they started with the life of the soldier and his
family in the hills of Nepal. This is refl ected in the
contents of the shop at the exit, which sells not
only the expected cap badges and military his-
tory books but also brightly coloured textile items
and Nepalese silver jewellery as well as recipe
books on Nepalese cuisine and tea, a juxtaposi-
tion of the military and the civilian.
of the educator in particular. The very nature of
being a soldier implies the legal right and duty
to fi ght and if necessary kill according to orders
and to make the ultimate commitment to give
their own lives in doing so. Some might make
accusations that regimental museums showcase
military triumphs and glorify war and killing, and
it is true to suggest that at the Gurkha Museum
some of the representations are quite graphic in
their presentation of the combat experience.
However, at no time are these representations
inappropriate or gratuitous and the dioramas that
feature some of the harsher realities of soldier-
ing contribute greatly to the overall visitor expe-
rience. Whilst the reality of war is not avoided
the dual role of today's soldier in policing and
peace-keeping is also represented, refl ecting the
reality of soldiering in the modern world.
The Gurkha museum is evolving primarily
because of external pressures. It is no longer just
about the culture and traditions of a military unit.
Whilst the background to the Gurkhas' home-
land explicitly sets out to inform the visitor about
the cultural signifi cance of religion, customs and
tradition, the other galleries do so but on occa-
sion by default. The links between the military
and civilian cultures are there throughout the
museum if the visitor knows where to look,
although at fi rst glance they are not always clearly
defi ned and there may, however, be too great an
assumption of prior knowledge. It is nevertheless
correct to suggest that, as the visitor progresses
around the museum, a greater understanding of
what it means to be a Gurkha who is both a
British soldier and a Nepalese citizen develops,
what may not be heard loudly enough is the
voice of the Gurkha soldier himself.
There are a number of omissions from the
museum. For example, the visitor does not see
anything on the political history of Nepal. This
is perhaps understandable as the British Army
traditionally separates itself from this aspect of
life, but nevertheless an oversight. No mention
is made of the pensions issue with the differen-
tiation in pay levels not just between offi cers
and men but British soldiers and Gurkhas,
which has only just been partially resolved. This
is extremely important when the total contribu-
tion of the Gurkha to the Nepali economy is its
fourth largest foreign currency earner. Relatively
little mention is currently made of the methods
of recruitment and selection that really illustrate
how tough the Gurkha has to be and how hard
it is to get in to the brigade. Webb (2007b) also
refl ects upon a change in the make-up of the
Gurkha force itself, for the need for fewer recruits
has led to higher standards of education being
set as entry requirements, which in turn has
resulted in more townspeople rather than the
traditional hill people being accepted. This in
itself is creating a duality within the makeup of
the Gurkha as a military unit.
The museum sets out not only to com-
memorate the service to the crown of the Gur-
kha and the British offi cer from 1815 to the
present day but also to provide an enjoyable
and educational experience. It is possible that
the nature of some of the exhibits in military
museums may lead to some unease on the part
Thanks to Major Gerald Davis, Curator, the Gur-
kha Museum, Peninsula Barracks, Romsey Road,
Alpers, S. (1991) The museum as a way of seeing. In: Karp, I. and Lavin, S.D. (eds) Exhibiting Cultures. The
Poetics and Politics of Museum Design . Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.
Asquith, S. (2000a) The Gurkha Rifl es 1815-1918. Regiment Magazine , October, 26-28.
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