The preview for London’s Imperial War Museum’s new First World War Galleries and atrium takes place today. The gallery will showcase large object displays and a major First World War art exhibition –Truth and Memory which opens today, 16 July for a press view. The IWM London sports a newly curated gallery displays and objects in its new Foster & Partners designed atrium .The refurbishment of one of the most popular museum spaces in the country will be revealed as IWM gears up to show off its £40 million revamp.
The atrium contains a suspended aircraft, with tanks from all conflicts, iconic rockets, relics and artillery pieces, the famous atrium of the Lambeth museum has long provided a fitting entree to one of the world’s finest collections exploring conflict since 1914. The ambitious new central space includes terraced galleries rising on either side of an atrium that has restored the historic architecture and opened the building up to the surrounding park.
The museum is filled with more than 400 objects from IWM’s collections – more than 60 of them have never been displayed before – the new central galleries will display everything from aircraft and tanks through to letters, personal mementos and artworks.
“Working closely with historians Nigel Steel and Roger Tolson, we were entrusted with great creative freedom in how to represent key themes and events,” he reflected.
“Choosing to draw out the stories from the predominantly large and often surprising groups of objects themselves, we devised a series of collectively chronological yet distinct display ‘clusters’ that we dramatised and choreographed to explore themes, events and personal stories.”
“We want our visitors to travel through the actual time of the First World War, and this can only be done by bringing objects to life; digital enables us to do these things,” explained IWM digital producer Jo Saull. “By digitising archive material, our visitors can engage closer to these objects as they wouldn’t have been able to before.”
The gallery is divided into two areas, Home Front and Fighting Front, which will cover 14 topics: Hope and Glory, Why War?, Shock, Your Country Needs You, Deadlock, World War, Feeding the Front, Total War, At All Costs, Life at the Front, Machines Against Men, Breaking Down, Seizing Victory and War Without End.
A collection of approximately 1,300 objects will be on display, including weapons, uniforms, diaries, letters and souvenirs. Alongside them, 66 digital pieces will give further insights into the history of the items.
Visitors are welcomed into the gallery showing the ‘People of Britain’ film, created by filmmakers Mitchell & Kenyon in the early 1900s. The film is projected onto a six-metre screen wrapping around the inside of a showcase of ship models using three projectors.
The Home Front area reminds visitors how the First World War was won from behind the scenes. This is portrayed in the Factory Window: a video wall comprising six 46in screens. The wall uses a six-channel Dataton Watchout PC to combine photographs and videos showing the industrial and human elements of factory life.
Along with the Factory Window, the museum has installed the Supply Line; a four-metre interactive table embedded with sensory objects, which aims to bring to life the story of the Home Front’s critical role.