The Wings of Liberation Museum originated from a temporary exhibition commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Market Garden in 1984. It was staged in the Dutch town of Veghel and was such a success that its creator Mr. Jan Driessen (1921-2010) decided to change its temporary character and build a permanent museum around this theme.
When the original location was no longer capable of housing the continuous expansion with additional themes, documentation and equipment, the search for a more suitable location began. In 1996, the Dutch Defense Department made a offer that Mr. Driessen could not refuse: a former mobilisation compound became available at the current address in Best and relocation activities started in the same year.
On Wednesday 17 September 1997, the new museum opened its doors to the public, in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, Prince Consort to the late Queen Juliana.
2009 marked the start of a comprehensive renovation project. Halls were refurbished, a new hall was raised, and the reception area was completely overhauled. The museum reopened its doors to the public in April 2009 and ever since, this revitalisation process has been ongoing. Like every museum, we have a story to tell and we feel this can best be achieved by linking the past to present times, renovating and modernising as required. By definition, this will be an ongoing process. Most of the work is done by the museum's many volunteers.
The collection is special in the sense that most of the museum's vehicles, equipment, aircraft and weaponry were actually used in Operation Market Garden.
Some examples of what the museum has on display:
- The famous Dakota C-53
- Half-tracks and tanks like a Sherman tank and a Russian T-34
- Army vehicles such as jeeps, motorcycles and a rare English Coles crane used at an airfield
- A crashed Waco glider, including a video showing how they were retrieved after repair
- Guns like the much-feared German Flak 88
- German Vierling and American Quad anti-aircraft guns
- An extensive collection of period photos with an explanation of their context
- True-to-life dioramas depicting events and locations from the local area