Wing Commander Guy Gibson with members of his crew of 617 Squadron

Wing Commander Guy Gibson with members of his crew of 617 Squadron © IWM (TR 1127)

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid. Next summer when our new atrium fully re-opens we’ll have a piece of the bar from the Petwood Hotel where the off-duty aircrews involved in the Dambusters raid would relax and socialise. A recent acquisition by IWM, this will be the first time the bar has ever been on public display.

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Three civilians soak up the sunshine as they sleep in the sunshine in the comfort of deck chairs in Hyde Park, London. © IWM (D 15939)

As spring slowly rolls into summer the first brave sunbathers, sports teams and locals enjoying the sunshine emerged last weekend, tucking into ice creams in the park alongside the museum.

Although it’s always a bit galling to be able to see people eating ice creams, playing Frisbee and sunning themselves while we’re stuck in the office it has got us all excited about the new café at IWM London which opens in summer 2014.

Located on the west-side of the building the new café will open out into the park so we’ll be able to sit outside and enjoy a nice hot drink or grab a bite to eat before heading into the museum to explore the new galleries and displays.

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Merely to remind you that........TIME FLIES

Merely to remind you that……..TIME FLIES © IWM (Art.IWM PST 3703)

Summer is just around the corner and it is now only three months until we partially re-open on 29 July. To mark the three month countdown here’s a sneak peak what’s on from July at IWM London…

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IWM Youth Advisors in the Atrium during construction, April 2013

Hi, I’m Amelia. I’m currently undertaking a student volunteer placement at IWM London and was lucky enough to join the IWM Youth Advisors Ruben, Elana, Zipporah, Kevin and Josiah for their April meeting. This was a packed day focusing on the changes that the museum is currently undergoing.

We started with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour led by Geoff Burningham, Senior Construction Manager. It was a brilliant chance to see first-hand the redevelopment of the museum. It was amazing to see how much the museum has already changed and to use our imaginations to picture what it will look like in the future.

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IWM Young Reporters at Lambeth College Radio

This term IWM Young Reporters from local Archbishop Sumner School and Oasis Academy Johanna have been making exclusive behind-the-scenes podcasts about Transforming IWM London.

Sixty Year 5 students took on different roles including researchers, technical assistants, interviewers, roving reporters and presenters.  They worked together with IWM learning officers to plan and present a series of six exciting podcasts and even recorded their own jingle!

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An octagonal kitchen building at Royal Bethlem Hospital, early 20th Century. LSC-210, courtesy of Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust

An octagonal kitchen building at Royal Bethlem Hospital, early twentieth century. Courtesy of Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust (LSC-210)

As work gets underway on the transformation of IWM London and the Large Exhibits Gallery specifically, we thought it might be good to take a look at how that particular space has evolved over the years.

The Imperial War Museum moved  to Lambeth Road in 1936, taking over the central section of the former Bethlem Royal Hospital. The building, completed in 1815, was constructed around a courtyard where the Chief Physician had his garden.

As the number of patients grew, the garden was replaced by an octagonal kitchen building, shown above in the early twentieth century. Before IWM moved in, the kitchen was demolished to make way for three single storey exhibition galleries.

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545x385 IWM London Atrium floor architects' drawing with notes

An early version of the proposed floorplan of IWM London’s transformed Atrium space with our notes included.

When it came to modelling which objects would be selected for our transformed Atrium and where they would be displayed, it soon became clear that neither glue or tape or tack would work.  

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IWM London is now temporarily closed until July 2013 as we begin the first phase of our major transformation project.

Di Lees, our Director-General,  speaks about our major redevelopment project, Transforming IWM London. Watch the video above to hear about our future plans.

This temporary period of closure is allowing us to safely and securely deliver the most disruptive construction works needed to transform our museum.

We will partially reopen in July 2013. You can look forward to our major new family exhibition Horrible Histories®: Spies, launching in July 2013.  We will also have an exciting new programme of art and photography exhibitions in the autumn. The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary HeroesThe Holocaust ExhibitionSecret WarA Family in Wartime and our Explore History Centre will be reopening.

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