Is that real?

IWM London atrium in 2012

‘Is that real?’ This is a question frequently asked of the large exhibits in IWM London’s atrium.  The answer is of course yes.  The real question here is why would our visitors question whether we were displaying real historical objects? The answer lies in their display.

The current atrium at IWM London certainly delivers the ‘wow’ factor.  The scale of the items on display from the imposing tanks right in front of you to the planes swooping above can certainly take your breath away.  But the reason that many visitors question their authenticity is that these objects are displayed out of context. You get little sense of the ‘reality’ of the objects.  We want to address this with the display of large objects in the new First World War Galleries.

For the first time we are placing large objects within our new First World War Galleries – a tank, a plane, a howitzer to name a few.  Displayed with relevant and related objects within the exhibition, their role and significance can be better explained.  Visitors will be able to get a much better appreciation of these objects and, very importantly, of what they did.  These impressive looking objects were weapons of war and their new display will explore the impact of these machines on the men suffering their effects and those who used them.

First World War Mark V Tank
This is the First World War Mark V tank as it is currently displayed in the atrium.  There are no related items displayed with the tank.

Sketch of a Mark V Tank in the new First World War Galleries

Design by Casson Mann © IWM

The proposed new designs place the tank within the First War World Galleries, offering much more context to the display.  Here the tank rears menacingly towards the visitor.

Tank Mask
Within the exhibition the tank can be displayed with relevant items, like this tank mask worn by 2nd Lieutenant Hassell in the Battle of Cambrai, 20 November 1917.  The mask was designed to protect the tank crew from flying metal splinters caused by the impact of bullets hitting the outer steel of the tank’s body.

  1. Mike Armitage says: August 21, 20129:26 pm

    Good luck with the new galleries. I do like the ‘trench-eye’ view of the tank.
    While it’s a pity the museum will have to close for the refurbishment, I’m looking forward to the new look.
    I hope that we will still be able to see inside the WW1 Mk. V tank. I’ve taken several children arond the IWM and the cramped conditions that you can see in both that tank and the Jagdpanther always creates an impression, and lets them realise that there were men inside these machines.

  2. Chris Langley says: September 3, 20121:46 pm

    the Museum in Ypres has a remarkable display of a tank in context, which seems to have informed this design

  3. Patricia says: July 12, 20145:18 pm

    Looks fantastic. Can’t wait to see the new exhibition. Well done to all your planning and hard work.

Submit comment