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Tag "Bethlem Royal Hospital"

The Imperial War Museum, 1935 : Showing the main art gallery under construction. Image © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 509)

As everyone gears up for our partial reopening of IWM London on 29 July, here is our short guide to museum openings of yesteryear.

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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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19th century print showing the exterior of the Bethlem Royal Hospital

19th century print showing the exterior of the Bethlem Royal Hospital © IWM (Q82924)

The National War Museum was founded in 1917 when the government decided that a museum should be set up to collect and display material related to the First World War, which was still being fought. Interest from the Dominion governments led to a change in name to Imperial War Museum. It was formally established by Act of Parliament in 1920.

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