By Carolyn Todd
Updated January 14, 2015 at 06:54 PM EST
Peter Jackson
Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies created a universe that was fantastical yet authentic—mired in the rich, intricate history of Middle Earth. Jackson has actually said he approached the story like an archaeologist to recreate scenes from Tolkien’s canon. Now, the New Zealander is leaving the battle for Middle Earth behind to dive into some real-world war history. AP reports that Jackson will help open a World War I museum in Wellington, New Zealand.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the government sought out the director and WWI enthusiast—he even owns several aircrafts from the era—to curate a collection of war artifacts from New Zealand battles. “It’s fun. And it’s free,” Jackson said Wednesday at an event to promote local film production, hosted at his post-production facility. “The exhibits will be very, very interesting, and I’m enjoying it.”

The director, whose films have grossed billions of dollars worldwide, is thrilled to finally have the opportunity to pursue another of his passions. “It’s the first time in five years that I haven’t woken up in the morning and had deadlines… no phones ringing, screaming ‘When are we going to see this?'” Jackson said. The free public museum will open in April, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle.