A look back: How IWM has changed over the decades

Crystal Palace

The army section display at Crystal Palace, 1920. Although the space was dramatic, the glass structure and four year lease meant it was unsuitable as a long term home for the Museum.

Welcome to the first in a series of blogs from the museum archive. With the transformation of IWM London now moving into  full swing, we thought it would be a good opportunity to tell you more about the history of the Lambeth Road building that our London branch has occupied for over 70 years.

After it was founded in 1917, IWM had no permanent home and instead was housed in a variety of buildings including the Crystal Palace and in galleries adjoining the former Imperial Institute in South Kensington. It was constantly having to adjust to the spaces it was given and this, unfortunately, led to IWM disposing of around a third of its collections in 1924.

On moving to the Lambeth Road site in 1936, staff were finally able to adapt a building to suit the needs of a museum and its ever expanding collections. This series of blogs will look at how this has been achieved over the years with particular reference to some of the informative records held in our archive.

Members of staff cutting up a tank as part of the disposals prior to the move to the Imperial Institute in 1924. The move to Lambeth Road meant that IWM had far more space and would not be forced into making such large cuts to its collections again

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