Imperial War Museum – London

Recently I was in London and I thought I would visit the Imperial War Museum.

It is a place that holds many surprises.  The first one before you enter the museum.  You would expect to see the guns outside but I was not expecting to see a piece of the Berlin Wall too.

The museum itself is free to enter.  There are entrance fees to temporary exhibitions that might be taking place.  Once inside it is far from the celebration of war that one might expect.  There are plenty of military hardware to view but it also looks at the problems and horrors of war too.

On the ground floor there is an exhibit decided to an ordinary family and how they lived through the blitz in World War II.  This was fascinating as it examined day-to-day living during the war.  This is something that can be easily forgotten with rationing and having children taken away to be evacuated to the country for their safety.

The first floor dedicated to the Secret Services and the role they have played in conflicts during the 20th century.  Again, this was excellent with plenty of video footage to view particularly of the SAS rescuing the hostages in the Iranian Embassy in 1980.  This was something I could remember seeing on the television at the time.  Also on the first floor there is a temporary exhibition about the soldiers serving in Afghanistan, a reminder of current conflicts.

Second floor main exhibition is the film ‘Crime Against Humanity’.  It tells of genocide that has taken place and the effects it has on the people.  Some of the images are upsetting and you warned not to bring in children under the age of twelve.  What I was left from this was the number of crimes against humanity that have taken place.  It is more than I thought.   There is also an art gallery with portraits and images from the war.

The third floor contained the highlight of the museum.  This was the exhibition dedicated to the Holocaust.  As you can imagine what you see and hear cuts right through you.  The horrors I could not imagine.  It seems so long ago yet it was only seventy years ago.  What stayed with me was the silence as I travelled through the exhibition.

The fourth floor celebrates the extraordinary heroes and the story of how they received their medals.

Overall, the Imperial War Museum was a great way to spend an afternoon.  What I found pleasing was the number of families that were visiting and the parents taking time to explain what happened.

There is currently some working taking place inside the museum and some areas will be inaccessible.  From 2nd January 2013 the museum will be closed for six months while major construction work takes place.

The nearest tube stop is Lambeth North on the Bakerloo line.  There is free Wi-fi in the museum and there is also a cafe and shop to visit.

Until my next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

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