17 June 2016

imperial war museum

Travel Diaries

Imperial War Museum Entrance - London

The Imperial War Museum is an attraction that has somehow passed us by. I may have visited it in the past but have no memories of going. We've always visited the more accessible museums in central London. We're currently reading the wonderful 'Grandpa's Great Escape' by David Walliams with M, and it inspired us to take a look at the museum, as it heavily features in the story. Sketches has featured a number of museums on this site, National History and Science Museums, and I'm glad that we've been able to add this one to the list. So if you've never been or are looking for something to do in London this Summer, then let us help you. 

London museums
Above the Grand Hall - Imperial War Museum
Grand Hall
Perhaps the most problematic part of the day was actually getting to the museum. It's a little walk from the tube station (Lambeth North on the Bakerloo Line), so be warned if taking children. That said a ten minute stroll isn't too much hardship and you won't be disappointed once you've arrived. Signs clearly direct you, so getting lost shouldn't be a problem. Firstly let's be clear this is a museum that doesn't glamorise war, and there are images and displays that small children may find disturbing. Right so what's it like?

Once you've negotiated the giant guns that welcome you into the museum, I say that with a hint of irony! You'll arrive in the grand hall. Suspended above your head is a Harrier jump jet and Spitfire, on the ground exhibits such as trucks from various different conflicts. Our thoughts of the story we're reading came flooding into our minds at this point. (You'll have to read the book to find out more!) From here you are given choices; head upstairs and work your way down though the various levels, head for a coffee or the First World War exhibition on the lowest level. We decided on lunch first.  

London museums

Stunning Displays
After a quick packed lunch and a coffee (the downstairs cafe was busy, so be warned), we headed for the World War 1 exhibition. This has been recently revamped and not having been through it before I can only speak of the new display. Lets start by saying that for such a horrific period of history the exhibition is amazingly structured and laid out. Informative, thought provoking perhaps don't fully give it justice. Interactive displays and large exhibits allow younger children to also come away with a sense of this period in our history. All done in a totally non glorifying way. There was so much to read that you could probably spend all day just in that exhibit alone. You're taken through the whole process from pre-war to its conclusion, including a section on what it was like in the trenches. Some photographs are graphic in detail, so best to be aware of that. Overall though this was a stunning display and highly recommended. 

London museums
Relics of the past - Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum 
The other floors feature different stages of the Second World War and then bring it up to date with recent conflicts. Although these displays perhaps don't have the physical impact of the World War One display, they are nevertheless interesting and again thought provoking. Relics of these wars such as cars, tanks, and equipment help to bring added interest as you walk the corridors. Depending on your time and who you're with then give this museum at least two or three hours of your time. There is little doubt that you will have learnt something new when you leave. 

Although the Imperial War Museum may not be to everyone's liking it's certainly an important museum that will give you insight into previous wars and why we need to maintain peace in our times.  Have you been? Did you enjoy your time there? Should we have museums that look at war? Whatever your view I'd love to here from you. As always thanks for your support. 

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