Sabaton’s “History Rocks” WWI Project Deemed Tremendous Success By Museums Around The World

Published: 14 December 2023

Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site

PR History Rocks 1

Sabaton Frontman, Joakim Brodén and bassist, Pär Sundström at Royal Air Force Museum London, UK

Sabaton’s recently concluded “History Rocks” museum charity project, which revolved around the global premiere of the heavy metal band’s animated film, “The War To End All Wars – The Movie“, was a resounding success according to participating museums.

Developed in partnership with Yarnhub Animation Studios, “The War To End All Wars – The Movie” weaves together the World War 1 stories behind Sabaton’s powerful songs on their most recent studio album, “The War To End All Wars”.

The “History Rocks” charity initiative was developed to raise awareness on the importance of history and encourage more people to visit and support their local museums. The aim of the band donating their film for this project was to boost the visibility of museums around the world and introduce them to a new and previously untapped audience made up of Sabaton’s huge fanbase, which comprises millions of metalheads and history buffs.

140 museums big and small spanning 30 countries participated in screenings from November 4-19, 2023. The film captivated audiences worldwide, sparking a resurgence of interest in historical narratives through the lens of heavy metal. According to feedback, the maximum number of screenings held by a museum over the two-week period (November 4-19) stood at 72, with some museums reporting up to 1,200 visitors in total who were visiting solely to watch the movie.

Following a successful collaboration with Sabaton and the band’s “History Rocks” charity initiative, Nancy Bentley, curator and event coordinator, Hutchings Museum, Lehi (Utah, USA), enthusiastically shared: “This was one of the most exciting projects we’ve ever participated in. We were excited about it but couldn’t have anticipated how it exceeded expectations! The energy simply buzzed at the museum in anticipation, during and after the screening.

Riding a similar wave of enthusiasm, Rob Phillimore, marketing manager, Bodmin Keep (Cornwall, UK), expressed the tangible impact of the project, stating: “Screening the Sabaton movie gave our visitor numbers a huge boost. We only have a small screening room, but each screening we held was sold out!

Ian Flint, CEO, Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome (Essex, UK), echoed the sentiment, emphasising the profound connection fostered by the project: “It was wonderful to see the metal and museum communities merge through our shared appreciation of history. By understanding it, by making it relative, we can learn from it. Sabaton has taken a huge step forward in making our history relative and real to millions of fans worldwide, and we’re hugely grateful to them for the History Rocks project.”

Sabaton guitarist, Tommy Johansson, at Arsenalen, Sweden

Eager to play an active part of this experience, band members attended some hand-selected screenings across Europe to witness the premiere, engage with their fans and hold Q&A and signing sessions.

Meanwhile, a handful of war veterans attended some of these screenings, adding a poignant layer to the emotional impact of the film.

Pär Sundström stated: “I am incredibly happy to see the overwhelming turnout for the screenings of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie”. It’s heartening to witness the dedication of fans who travelled significant distances to attend these events. The response and the experience have been amazing, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share this historical journey with our fans.”

He added: “This project honestly went better than we could have even imagined. The feedback we received both during and after the event was incredible, and the fact that we’ve actually made a difference to the museums with the “History Rocks” project means everything to us. Mission accomplished.”

Sabaton bassist, Pär Sundström at The Tank Museum, UK.

The media coverage surrounding the “History Rocks” project has been nothing short of extraordinary, creating a buzz in various outlets worldwide. The story was picked up by the likes of Metal Hammer UK and Rolling Stone France to name a few, plus various other non-music-related publications and outlets such as Associated Press in the UK, Movieweb and Yahoo News, among many others.

Maryland Veterans Museum

“The War To End All Wars – The Movie” screening at the Maryland Veterans Museum at Patriot Park in Newburg, MD

Connie Uy at the Maryland Veterans Museum reports:

We hosted 8 movie screenings. We had a total of 144 visitors/attendees.  Visitors came from NJ, PA, DE, WV and all points in MD and VA.

Many locals either didn’t know our museum existed or knew, but never got around to visiting until the Sabaton movie motivated them to come here.
A few members of my Daughters of the American Revolution chapter (Port Tobacco) came to watch to support the project even though they never heard of Sabaton before nor are hard rock fans. They still enjoyed the movie and thought it should be shown in High Schools.
For me personally, it was a dream come true to work with one of my favorite bands! I’ve been a Sabaton fan and seen them in concert many times over the last ten or so years. Their music, the movie, and our museum are a perfect combination!

Connie Uy (right) of the Maryland Veterans Museum, wearing one of the Sabaton T-shirts made for the event, poses with a friend from the DAR before the museum’s screening of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie” in November.

Sabaton’s dedication to making history accessible has also caught the attention of educational institutions, some of which have expressed keen interest in utilising the movie as an educational tool.

Highlighting the potential of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie” as an effective educational resource for people of all ages was Diane Stephen, manager, Heugh Battery Museum (Hartlepool, the UK), who said: “I think the film is an excellent resource and source of information. Apart from the value it has for adult audiences, we feel that students and pupils of teenage years would get a lot from screenings of this film and it would create a lot of discussion. It is an excellent way to show those studying WW1 at this level in the UK how the war was not simply a trench war in France where the British and Germans fought – which can be the line which is most closely delivered to those being introduced to the topic. We feel the film clearly shows it was a World War with many nations involved, which was fought on many fronts, including the sea and air.”

Meanwhile, Petar Stefanov, head of the guide department, National Museum of History (Sofia, Bulgaria), explained that during the museum’s organised screenings, many student groups led by teachers visited. “They watched the movie and asked us when the next project is so they can bring their students as a learning activity outside the school,” he said.

Emphasising the initiative’s overall success, 100% of museum respondents in a post-event survey stated that they would be open to future collaborations with Sabaton on projects of a similar nature.

As for the future of “The War To End All Wars – The Movie”, the band is exploring ways to present the film to a wider audience, with plans yet to be finalised.

Sabaton drummer, Hannes Van Dahl at the Aeroseum, Sweden

National World War I Museum and Memorial

Over two hundred guests—some travelling across multiple states—attended the screening of Sabaton’s film, “The War To End All Wars – The Movie,” hosted at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO as part of the weekend’s Veterans Day programming.

The Museum had a packed house for the Sabaton showing, and followed it with a live talk on Youtube with one of the band members.

Is history your jam? Lora Vogt, Vice President of Education and Interpretation at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, sits down (above) for an exclusive interview with Swedish heavy metal bassist Pär Sundström, covering his love for museums, the importance of integrating history into Sabaton’s music, and how he feels about children at heavy metal shows.

U.S. Army Transportation Museum

Visitors attending a screening of the Sabaton film “War to End All War’s film at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum located at Fort Eustis, VA, (All Photos Credit: U.S. Army Transportation Museum).

The U.S. Army Transportation Museum located at Fort Eustis, VA screened the Sabaton film “War to End All War’s film  in November 2023. The film was shown as part of the world-wide premier of the film, which was shared with museum around the world by the Swedish rock Band Sabaton in an effort to share their love of history and increase military history engagement.

U.S. Army Transportation Museum Director Sepp Scanlin with WW1 material from the museum’s collection (dogtags, insignia, medals, etc.) to share with the audience as he talked about the significance of WWI from a US perspective before the film.

Museum Director Joseph “Sepp” Scanlin reports:

Although our total numbers weren’t huge we appreciated the opportunity to showcase the film and build new audiences.

All the groups that visited to see the film were connected to us through their interest in Sabaton. Their associated guests also enjoyed the showing.
All the Sabaton fans really enjoyed the film and highlighted how much other great material was on the HistoryRocks page.

We gained one potential archival material donor through the showing. A museum visitor/film viewer subsequently offered to share her great-grand fathers WW1 Photo collection with us. He had served as an aerial observer during the war.

Visitors and staff alike were really struck by this entire project. We’d gladly partner with them on another project based on the results of this one.

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