The Imperial War Museum is one of those major London museums that I’d never managed to find time for until a recent trip to the Old Vic found me a quick 10 minutes walk away. Founded during the First World War in 1917 I was impressed by the range and detail of items on display both from the site of war and at the home front and the interactive nature of many of the displays.
I only had around 3 hours to spare, which wasn’t enough to visit all the exhibit areas (I’ll definitely be back to see what I missed at some point). I did manage to explore the First World War Gallery, the Secret War section about the history of British spycraft and the family at war exhibit (about life on the home front).
There are for more interesting things to see than can be covered here so this will focus on a few of my personal favourites. The most obvious and striking is the Spitfire on display in the entrance which flew 57 combat missions during the Battle of Britain.
I find war propaganda fascinating, particularly the posters designed to get men to enlist (and women to do their bit too) and there are plenty of examples at the IWM, both from the UK and further afield. In fact in total 12.5 million posters were produced using 160 different designs during the First World War.
I found the section devoted to Remembrance Day poppies very interesting, particularly as I had no idea that it was a French woman who first had the idea of selling them for charity.
I also liked the exhibit on a family in war time, about the real Allpress family and the impact that the Second World War had on their lives. It showcases rationing, the make do and mend mentality as well as the vital role women played back home.
I also managed to take in the Secret War Exhibit, which focuses on spycraft and the founding of the various British Intelligence Services. Of particular note given my trip to Norway last year was this Enigma Machine which is on loan from Norway’s Resistance Museum.
It’s a really interesting place to visit and I’d highly recommend it. Entry is free.
More photos can be found here.