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Imperial War Museum

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by Adam Millward (subscribe)
London-based writer with incurably itchy feet always looking for the quirky and curious
Published January 14th 2010
An entire museum dedicated to war might sound like a gloomy prospect, but the Imperial War Museum does a great job at combining information and entertainment.

The Museum is divided over three floors. The entrance hall offers the largest exhibits from tanks to warplanes and a portable nuclear safety 'pod' which looks distinctly like a Doctor Who Dalek.

The basement houses the most extensive collections, with most space dedicated to WWI and WWII and a corner given to conflicts post 1945. As well as detailed information boards, thousands of items in the displays, including weapons, uniforms and pigeon parachutes, the World War sections also incorporate simulations of the Trenches and the Blitz where you get the chance to see, hear and even smell these traumatic historical experiences. Most interesting for me was the Post-1945 section where there are displays on the Cold War, Vietnam, the Korean War and African conflicts among others as despite these being more recent, these were the conflicts I knew least about.

Other exhibitions running at the Imperial War Museum include an in-depth look at the Holocaust, through a combination of film, documents, photographs and artefacts as well as The Children's War - a display which considers wartime through the eyes of Britain's youngsters.

On the second floor, there is a two permanent galleries dedicated to war-themed art. There are paintings by a wide variety of war artists including Sir Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Sir George Clausen, Henry Moore and John Piper.

All in all, this is a history museum where no detail is spared on modern war. Sure you'll find missile shrapnel and big guns here, but the real highlight is how close this museum brings us to our past and in many ways offers crucial guidance for our future.
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Why? To learn everything you need to know about war and its political, economic and social ramifications
When: Daily. 10am-6pm.
Where: Lambeth Road, London, SE1 6HZ
Cost: Free
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