This Saturday – 19 April – marks the three month countdown to our re-opening on 19 July.

While we’ve been busy updating on all the activity taking place behind the scenes here are our top five things to see when we re-open this summer.

First World War Galleries

Our new First World War Galleries will present the story of the war – how it started, why it continued and its global impact, through the lives and viewpoints of those who experienced it at the time. Drawing on our First World War collections – the richest and most comprehensive in the world – 1,300 objects including weapons, uniforms, diaries, letters and souvenirs will be on display alongside photographs, art and film – many of which have never been seen before.

One of the many objects on display will be our iconic Sopwith Camel bi-plane, which was previously on display in our atrium. Want to know how to move a Camel? Find out here.


A transformed Atrium

A model of our new atrium.

If you’ve visited us in the past you may remember our old atrium  Well, I was lucky enough to have a sneaky peek at the new atrium recently - and wow – it is a fantastic transformation that will look superb whilst introducing visitors to our collections and the stories they hold.

In the central space of our new atrium nine iconic objects will be on display. A Harrier, Spitfire and V2 rocket will be suspended from above and a T34 tank and Reuters LandRover damaged by a rocket attack in Gaza will be positioned on the new floor.  New terraces where more of our collections will be revealed will line the atrium.


Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War

© IWM ART 2243 Oppy Wood, 1917. Evening, by John Nash

This new exhibition, running from 19 July 2014 to 9 March 2015, will be the largest exhibition on British First World War art for nearly 100 years. Truth and Memory will explore the immediate impact and legacy of British art of the First World War, revealing how artists helped shape our perceptions of the conflict and warfare  itself.


IWM Contemporary: Mark Neville

Production still from ‘Backdrops’, 16mm film, 2011, Mark Neville.

The latest exhibition in our on-going IWM Contemporary programme will feature the work of artist Mark Neville. In 2010 Mark was commissioned by the gallery firstsite, in association with IWM, to spend time with 16 Air Assault Brigade on a tour of duty to Helmand Province in Afghanistan as they worked with Afghan Forces to regain control from the Taliban, and offer immediate reconstruction such as establishing schools.

During his two-month stay, Neville filmed and photographed British soldiers and Afghan civilians using a variety of innovative approaches including slow motion filming, and the use of a series of backdrops made with resonant images of past wars. Avoiding the conventions of media reporting, the work featured in IWM Contemporary: Mark Neville gives us an arrestingly direct and yet poetic view of British troops and the Afghan people they encountered.


Everything else!

Our permanent exhibitions and galleries such as A Family in Wartime, The Holocaust Exhibition, Secret War and The Lord Ashcroft Gallery will also be re-opening alongside our family exhibition Horrible Histories®: Spies so there will plenty to see and do. Did we mention there will also be a few new cafes and shops for you to enjoy? Not long to wait now – the countdown continues until 19 July 2014!


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The team move the Sopwith Camel aircraft into IWM London

The end of March saw the arrival of two of IWM’s most iconic First World War objects – the Mark V Male tank and Sopwith Camel aircraft.

This installation represented a significant milestone in the Transforming London project – the tank and the aircraft are the last two large objects to be installed in the new First World War galleries ahead of our reopening  in the summer.

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Joni and members of the New Perspectives team

I’ve been so lucky to be a part of the New Perspectives project team for the past few months as part of my museum studies course; the programme is a really creative way to involve young people in the future of the museum.

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A detail of one of the projections featured in the new galleries. Image © Squint / Opera

Over the past 18 months we’ve been busy behind the scenes creating our new First World War Galleries, which open to the public on 19 July 2014. The digital media team is a key part of this development.

The previous First World War Galleries were designed in the late 1980s and opened to the public in 1990 before modern technology. Now, with a wide range of digital technologies at our disposal, we can offer new ways of presenting content for the visitor and put the surrounding objects into context.

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December 2013 saw the return of one of our most iconic objects - the V2 rocket. The rocket is now in place in our new atrium.

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Polaroid of Youth Advisers Elana, Ciara and Josiah with Elizabeth Crawford, IWM’s Trusts and Foundations Officer

This week/Last week Elizabeth Crawford, who is the Trusts and Foundations Officer at IWM, came in to speak to us about how IWM is funded and her work with Trusts and Foundations, and also how we as the Youth Panel are funded.

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Watch this short film to find out how our conservation team have cleaned and restored our First World War Observation Tree in time for the opening of our new First World War Galleries in July 2014.

The British camouflage tree observation post is one of the more unusual items in our collections – the museum acquired this tree in 1918 and it is believed to be one of only two in museums in the world. Find out more.


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The British Camouflage Tree

The British camouflage tree observation post. Image © IWM (FEQ 854)

This British camouflage tree observation post is one of the more unusual objects in our collection. Its journey from the fields of the Western Front to display in our new First World War Galleries, nearly one hundred years later, tells us much about the way that the First World War was fought but also how its impact is still with us today in unexpected and surprising ways.

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