The Imperial War Museum is an excellent museum that features exhibits on Britain and the Commonwealth’s military involvement from the First World War to the present day. Exhibits include a large collection of military hardware including aeroplanes, tanks and bombs.
What to see at the Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum’s permanent displays include galleries that show the story of the First World War, the Second World War and more recent conflicts.
First World War
The First World War galleries show how the war started, how it was fought and won and its impact on people’s lives. There are exhibits about how Britain invented the tank, Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of the Somme and inspirational stories of women who served during the war.
Second World War
The Second World War galleries tell the story of Britain’s, and the Commonwealth’s, involvement in the Second World War. It includes displays about the Battle of Britain, the Dambusters Raid, the D-Day landings, the Blitz, how Alan Turing cracked the Enigma Code and how rationing impacted day-to-day life and changed fashion. The Holocaust exhibition is particularly harrowing and the exhibitions about daily life during the war put a human face to the conflict.
The Cold War galleries depict the time between the end of the Second World War and the fall of communism in eastern Europe. These galleries include exhibits about the Aden Emergency and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Exhibits about contemporary conflict include exhibits about the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the legacy of Saddam Hussein, the war in Afghanistan, the role of photojournalism in modern warzones and the current conflict in Syria.
Visiting the Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is located in Lambeth in Southwark. It is less than a 10-minute walk to both Lambeth North and Elephant and Castle tube stations and a 15-minute walk to Waterloo station. The London Eye and the attractions in Westminster are around a 20-minute walk from the museum.
The Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast, Imperial War Museum Duxford and Imperial War Museum North (in Manchester) are all operated by the same organisation these other museums make a great accompaniment to the exhibits here.
It is quite easy to spend 1–2 hours exploring the Imperial War Museum and visitors with an interest in modern military history could easily spend half a day here.