Creator of ‘The Hobbit’ film has designed 21st century standard ‘World War I Exhibition’ in New Zealand


After the huge success of his Hollywood blockbuster, ‘The Hobbit’, the filmmaker Peter Jackson has surprised fans and historians around the globe with his First World War museum in colour. He unveiled the first stage of his exhibition in Wellington, New Zealand; it features scores of colour images from the War, depicting the life of the soldiers on the battlefields and in the trenches. The images are actual black-and-white photographs, which have been transformed into full-colour images by Weta Digital, Jackson’s own visual-effects studio.

Jackson said that the reason why he wanted to transform the black-and-white images into colour photographs was to enable viewers to connect with the people in the images. According to him, a black-and-white image sometimes disconnects the viewer by creating a barrier of time. He also added that colour images evoke an emotional response by connecting the present with the past.

Jackson had been working on this project for quite a few months; he started working on it right after finishing ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy. A large number of planes and artefacts displayed in the museum are from Jackson’s personal collection. Jackson is a World War One history buff, so this project has a personal dimension for the renowned filmmaker.


He has some more ambitious plans in the pipeline, including some exhibitions that will coincide with the centenary of famous battles from the War. The first of the series is expected to be held very soon, and will commemorate the ‘Battle of Gallipoli’.

Jackson had said that, since his childhood, he has always been fascinated by the First World War. He said that one of the main reasons for his fascination was the stories he heard about his grandfathers and great-uncles taking part in the war.

He has said that since he is not a professor of history, his museum will not be like any other war museum, and that he is a storyteller and wants people to have a ‘personal experience’ through war, just like watching a film, the Mashable reports.

Jackson thinks that although World War One in itself was a useless endeavour, there are nevertheless tons of stories of bravery and humanity found within the events that happened in that war. The most fascinating thing in the war, according to Jackson, was the advancement of technology during it – how soldiers entered the war on horses and left in planes.

The exhibition has so far secured a sum of 12 million New Zealand dollars (about 9.2 million US dollars) from a variety of private and public sources. The organizers of the exhibition are expecting this amount to grow in the coming weeks. One of the things that Jackson loves about this project is the creative independence it has given him to turn the exhibition into an amazing experience.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE