In previous posts I have stated my aim to visit as many of London sights as possible and I took advantage of the mayday weekend to pay a trip to the Imperial War Museum. I have visited here before, however, it was in the midst of an extensive restoration project and only a few of the exhibits where on display; the impressive atrium was out of bounds.
During the day I learnt the providence of the impressive building. It was not purpose built as I would’ve assumed, however, is one of the iterations of Bethlem Asylum, commonly know as Bedlam.
To signify its repurposing a pair of naval guns are on proud display outside the entrance.
The Museum itself is a treasure trove of artefacts and exhibitions – I have deliberately omitted pictures of inside so you can explore yourself. The various rooms are arranged around a central atrium in which aircraft and missiles are suspended above other military hardware.
The ground floor holds a stunning journey through the First World War. Mixing various media, well presented sets and artefacts it is set out in a way that allows both a detailed excursion or a cursory walk through. WW1 has been part of the common conscious throughout my lifetime and the horror surrounding the advent of mechanised warfare is something I will never comprehend. I struggled throughout my tour to envisage what it must have been like to face these alien (to them) contraptions whilst enduring such hardship and terror; there is one section where you enter a trench with a tank suspended above it, about to breach the walls. This sent a chill down my spine – I’m sure, however good the recreation, my imaginings feel short of reality.
As you ascend through the building, the further floors have exhibits about the World War 2, framed round the life of one London family. This was available on my last trip and it interested me how much the recreations of these domestic rooms resonate with my experiences that I can remember of my grandparents – the pace of change has massively accelerated during my lifetime. Further floors have exhibits pertaining to more recent conflicts. Another interesting area is devoted to the rise of espionage and secret services through the last century.
The penultimate two floors are dedicated to the Holocaust. The exhibition is again incredible. As with previous floors despite the amazing work the curators have done they are trying to explain something I will never properly comprehend. The first part is dedicated to the rise of Hitler. The parallels that can be drawn with contemporary times are alarming.
The very top floor is Lord Ashcroft’s exhibit which is dedicated to Heroes, displaying the largest collection of Victoria and George Crosses and the stories of those who were awarded them.
I will share one shot I have from the inside, this stunning space was too good to resist.
I thoroughly recommend the IWM to any one – its thought provoking exhibits are a must.
On my way back to Waterloo I took a detour to look at the world famous ‘Old Vic’ and got a quick snap of it complete with a red double decker.
Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoyed!