The new museum of the Royal Military Academy was officially inaugurated on 23 September 2011. The museum of the is open to interested visitors both from inside and outside Defence. The curator is Mr. Marc Beyaert.
In the museum some 800 items give a magnificent view of the history of the RMA since its creation in 1834. In each of the six modules, a specific period is covered.
Module 1 : 1834 - 1873
The difficult early days of the Academy at the Porte de Namur begin with the French generals Chapelié and Nerenburger and with the first Belgian academy-commandant Liagre. An Academy just for "Special Weapons": Artillery-Engineers and later on also for the so-called "Ordinary weapons": Infantry and Cavalry. Eminent professors teach at the Academy: Adolphe Quetelet, Jean-Servais Stas, Jean-Baptiste Madou and even Charles De Coster (Till Eulenspiegel). The course books and the personal notes of the students illustrate the high level of the education. In paintings, engravings, and even photographs, the students are in the picture and the "Punish (penalty) books" are a source of juicy anecdotes. Former students of this period are found later in Rome, Algeria, Mexico, Peru and the American Civil War.
Module 2 : 1874 - 1908
The Academy was temporarily housed in a former abbey at the Cambre Woods. Dozens of drawings of the pupils show us their daily lives in the sleeping quarters and dining halls, in class and study, but also the Infection, the duels, those contained under disciplinary action, the abundant Pampou meals, the "accidents" in the duck pond...
The royal princes Baudouin and Albert are prepared in our Academy for their future tasks. Scientific and didactic tools and courses prove that the Academy closely followed the latest inventions (electricity, telegraph, telephone ..). Twenty countries entrust to us the education of their officers, while our alumni distinguish themselves abroad: 300 of them in the Congo, others in Thailand, two of them escorted Baron de Gerlache during his explorations of Antarctica.
Module 3 : 1909 - 1918
King Leopold II returns the Academy to Brussels and constructs some prestigious buildings on a campus that stretches over 5 ha and that is situated next to the Cinquantenaire parc, with its exhibition halls. General Leman demands the highest quality of the students, but also from the professors. The barbaric German invasion of August 1914 ends the Belle Epoque dream abruptly: the Germans occupy our Academy and leave it in ruins. Three hundred students and alumni are killed in the terrible trench war. A unique series of etchings by Jacques Madyol shows those former students, who during the war, assured the highest command posts.
Module 4 : 1919 - 1945
By appointing a former promotion colleague as Academy Commandant and by letting his children Leopold and Charles (the later King and Prince Regent) study in the RMA, King Albert I shows his determination to get our Academy back on its feet. The Academy gets its own flag, a coat of arms and motto, and from 1936 we may call ourselves "royal". The regained high level of our training brings visitors from all around the world. A new uniform and new traditions like the Sword of the King and the annual ball of the RMA are introduced. Clever cartoons bring the daily life of the students into picture. Until May 1940, when the madness of war falls upon us again. Students and alumni distinguish themselves during the Eighteen-Day Campaign, the escapes from the prison camps, on the side of the Allied troops, but especially in the Resistance, particularly in the Secret Army. Despite the atrocities of the Gestapo and the hell of the concentration camps, they keep the light of hope burning.
Module 5 : 1946 - 1993
Against the Anglo-Saxon pressure, and with the support of the professors E. Franckx and P. Cauchie, General Beernaerts can enforce his vision: the postwar RMA will provide both an academic and a practical military training. Besides a number, the promotions now get a name. Earlier traditions are revived: the Sword of the King, the annual ball, the Pampou. From 1978, female students make their entrance. Richly illustrated promotion books, student leaflets and stickers show not only the new technical possibilities, but also the assertiveness of the new generations. Rapid scientific developments relating to nuclear physics, photogrammetry, ballistics, chemistry, computer science, mechanics, telecommunications etc, force our chairs into a continuous adaptation of the programme and courses. In 1984, the RMA celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Module 6 : 1994 - today
Despite pressure from the European Union, our outdated infrastructure is renovated in situ, expanded and adapted to the increased number of students (see our photo shoot on the RMA infrastructure). The royal princes Philippe, Laurent and Amadeo get their education in the RMA. In this post-Cold War era foreign delegations from around the world visit our Academy, while foreign students and trainees from around 20 countries follow our courses. In this module, Thierry Lotin and astronaut Frank De Winne get a place of honor, while the Defence College and the Special Division are also covered. There are also the portraits of all the Academy commandants since 1834 and the Study Directors since 1985. Finally, visitors can browse via a computer in our rich, but still incomplete set of promotion pictures.