"Imperial War Museum" Top 5 Page for this destination Imperial War Museum Tip by toonsarah
Imperial War Museum, London: 59 reviews and 120 photos
Even if you don’t think you have a particular interest in war (its machinery, its politics or whatever), I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much there is to appeal to you here. And for lovers of planes, boats and very big guns, it’s a must!
I don’t include myself in the latter and usually give the exhibits in the main hall only a quick glance before heading to something of more interest to me, but on a recent visit with a friend even I got intrigued by the size of some of the weapons on display and the stories behind them.
More fascinating for me however are the social history sections. On that latest visit we toured a mock-up of a typical family home from World War II (see bedroom in photo 4), and although all three of us were born over ten years after the end of the war we could still spot familiar packages and toys from our childhoods! This exhibit is part of a special exhibition, The Children’s War that will end in January 2012, so hurry if you want to see it.
Another fascinating exhibit from that period is the Blitz Experience, which is a permanent fixture. You may have to wait to visit this but I think it’s well worth doing so. A group of you will be escorted into an air-raid shelter where in near-darkness you hear the thuds and crashes on bombs falling overhead, and inside the shelter the voiced fears of those supposedly around you. Then the “all clear” sounds and a warden escorts you outside. You find yourself in a London street more or less destroyed – buildings are burning, shop windows shattered, and people nearby are talking about the houses that were hit and neighbours who didn’t make it. Coming from the generation whose parents lived through all this I found it very moving to have the stories they had told me brought so vividly to life.
Even more harrowing, and consequently not recommended to children under 14, is the Holocaust Exhibition (and under 11s are not allowed at all here). I haven’t seen this since it has been greatly expanded – check the website before going as some may find it rather too close to reality I think.
More suitable for younger children is the mock-up of a submarine in the main hall – when we were last there I bumped into a friend whose three year old son could not be dragged away from all the various buttons that can be pressed, bunks “slept in “ and periscopes raised and lowered!
When you’ve seen enough there’s a reasonable café for light refreshments, and a good shop with a wide range of souvenirs, books, DVDs etc. Entry to the museum is free, though there is a charge for some special exhibitions – check the website below to see what’s on at the moment.
Address: Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
Directions: The nearest tube station is Lambeth North (Bakerloo line) – the museum is signposted and is about five minutes’ walk
Phone: %s3%cb+44 (0)20 7416 5320
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