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The Newly Re-opened Imperial War Museum London - Atrium and First World War Galleries

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 Imperial War Museum London- Atrium

On Saturday 19th July 2014 the Imperial War Museum London re-opened to the public following a £40 million refurbishment and yesterday I visited with @LondonSE4. Here are some photos of the impressive new atrium and its very poignant First World War Galleries. 

Imperial War Museum London

North Entrance with its two 15 feet guns from HMS Ramillies and HMS Roberts

The museum is housed in a beautiful building, designed by James Lewis in the early 1800s, and surrounded by gardens. Its grand main entrance has a giant portico (porch) with six Ionic columns and topped with a magnificent tall copper dome. It was originally built as the Bethlem Royal Hospital for people with mental health problems, from which we get the expression bedlam. 

Imperial War Museum London - atrium

 Witnesses to War - Atrium

The impressive atrium designed by Foster and Partners has a definate wow factor about it.

Imperial War Museum London - atrium

The new Witnesses to War exhibition, in the atrium, houses the musuem's largest exhibits.

Imperial War Museum London - atrium

In this case less is certainly more as not only does it provide a powerful introduction to the collection but it also allows one to take in and enjoy the magnificence of the four-storey-high atrium.

Imperial War Museum London - atrium

The barrel vaulted roof has been re-clad with high performance glazing and a shading screen and has really opened up this public space by helping to bring natural light into the exhibition spaces.  

Imperial War Museum London - atrium

The iconic spitfire

 Imperial War Museum London- First World War Galleries - trench signs

First World War Galleries - Trench signs

The opening of the new First World War Galleries is very timely as we quickly approach 4th August 2014, marking the centenary of Britian declaring war and commencing its involvement in what was referred to at that time as the Great War. In this context "Great" referring to the global size of the conflict, with destruction on a scale we had never seen before, and what was hoped would the War to end All Wars.

Imperial War Museum London- First World War Galleries - Edith Cavell

 Edith Cavell display - the nurse who was executed for her involvement in helping soldiers excape from from occupied Belgium. For more information about her please see the Cavell Nurses' Trust website.

Imperial War Museum London- First World War Galleries - British army sniper

British sniper's mask and cape

Imperial War Museum London- First World War Galleries - gas masks

Gas masks

Imperial War Museum London- First World War Galleries - conscientious objec

Letter to a conscientious objector - interesting display about those who refused military service on conscience and/or religion believes and the hostility they and their families experienced

Imperial War Museum London - First World War Galleries - interactive displa

Lots of interactive display throughout the galleries

Imperial War Museum London - First World War Galleries - women in wwi

 Some of the uniforms worn by women in World War I

Imperial War Museum London - First World War Galleries - biscuit rations

Biscuit rations

Imperial War Museum London - First World War Galleries - trench experience

Trench experience - really helped to bring the soldiers' story to life

Imperial War Museum London - First World War Galleries - trench experience

Trench experience

Imperial War Museum London - First World War Galleries - soliders uniforms

Soliders' uniforms - one of our favourite features of new galleries were that it includes different countries perspectives

Imperial War Museum London- First World War Galleries - poppy

Poppy - a symbol of rememberance started after WWI

The newly re-opened museum is definately worth a visit. When we went there were long queues and time admission into the First World War Galleries. Once inside we spent over 1 1/2 hours there as there is such a lot of fascinating things to see. It's worth the wait as with the musuem regulating the numbers it meant that once inside it wasn't too crowded and it was comfortable to get round, which we appriciated as the subject matter is very moving.

For more information about the museum please see the IWM website.

The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds