Designs for the new First World War Galleries by Casson Mann © IWM

A design concept for the groundbreaking new First World War Galleries which will use contemporary voices in new and innovative ways. Design by Casson Mann © IWM

I hope you people at home are not madly optimistic about the chances of an early peace.

So wrote 2nd Lt Frank Warren from France on 15 October 1918. He was probably aware from the newspapers that Germany had requested an armistice twelve days previously, but he did not guess that within a month the war would be over.

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P51D Mustang being prepared for lowering at IWM London in December 2012

P51D Mustang being prepared by our team of expert conservators for lowering at IWM London.

This past week, the last of our 65 large objects, the P51D Mustang – which has been suspended 15m high in our Large Exhibits Gallery for over 20 years – was lowered by a team of expert conservators before being transported to IWM Duxford to be conserved in our public hangar Conservation in Action.

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Concept for IWM Atrium © Foster + Partners

Concept for IWM Atrium © Foster + Partners

Our team’s job is to select and shape the displays for the new Atrium and what you see as you first step into IWM London.

The challenge is how to draw all the complexity of conflict – its overwhelming forces and extraordinary human experiences – into one relatively small space. 

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Members of the IWM Youth Panel meet in October 2012 to discuss new projects

Members of the Youth Panel meet in October 2012 to discuss new projects.

The Youth Panel’s October half term meeting was an exciting day spent exploring new ways to advertise all the museum has to offer.

Following on from our previous meeting, where we all chose our museum ‘highlights’, we met with Visitor Experience Manager, Linda, who gave us our brief for creating a new A5 flyer, which would be printed and given to visitors when they enter the museum.  The flyer will be utilised next year, to help visitors plan their time at the museum, targeting families and children.

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Over the course of three evenings last week, our team faced the rather large task of preparing, lowering and moving the 15m long V2 rocket that has towered over our Large Exhibits Gallery since 1989.

See more photos of the move.

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The remains of Surrey Lodge following a V2 explosion in 1945

The remains of Surrey Lodge, an apartment building destroyed by a V2 rocket on 4 January 1945. The photograph was apparently taken on the following day and graphically shows how a 5 storey building was reduced to rubble. Image courtesy of Lambeth Archives.

Barely 150 metres from IWM London today is the site of the most destructive explosion in Lambeth during the Second World War, which killed 43 people.  Just before 8.30pm on the night of Thursday 4 January 1945 a huge explosion destroyed an apartment building, Surrey Lodge, on the corner of Kennington Road and Lambeth Road. The old Lambeth Baths and a chapel on the opposite side of Lambeth Road were also severely damaged.  The blast also extensively damaged the northern and western sides of the Imperial War Museum as well as many surrounding buildings.

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Since 1989, five historic aircraft have soared overhead, suspended from the ceiling in our Large Exhibits Gallery at IWM London. Last month the first of these aircraft, a Sopwith Camel, was lowered to the ground and dismantled for safe transport as we prepare for the redevelopment of IWM London in January 2013.

Check out the timelapse video above to see how we did it. 

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Visitors at IWM London, October 2012

There is still a lot to see here at IWM London!  Work is now underway to transform the museum in time for the centenary of the First World War in 2014, and you will see some changes in action when you visit.

The visitor services team are here to ensure that you get the most out of your time at the museum. Some of our galleries have now closed, and we are here to direct you to the highlights of the five floors of museum galleries that are still open.

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