The Imperial War Museum London partially reopened on 29 July 2013 following a temporary closure to begin transformation works and build new First World War Galleries.
The reopening brings a major new family exhibition Horrible Histories: Spies and IWM Contemporary, a new program showcasing significant works by leading artists in response to war and conflict. (Read my review of Horrible Histories: Spies.)
While IWM London is partially open (from 29 July – Summer 2014) building works to transform the museum will continue behind the scenes until the new reconfigured atrium is revealed with large object displays and new First World War Galleries to mark the First World War Centenary in Summer 2014.
Imperial War Museum General Information:
The Imperial War Museum was opened by King George V on 9 June 1920 and moved to this location from South Kensington in 1936. The building was previously Bedlam hospital, a notorious mental asylum.
This was the floor plan before the museum closure. I will update these details below once we know for sure which areas are available when the museum reopens in July 2013.
Exhibits are spread over 6 floors:
LG (Lower Ground)
First World War (Highlight: Trench Experience)
Second World War (Highlight: Blitz Experience)
G (Ground floor)
Large exhibits (Highlights: A Polaris missile and five aeroplanes including a rare Mark I Spitfire are suspended below the glass domed roof.)
The Children's War
Information / Cafe / Shop
1 (First floor)
Survival at Sea
2 (Second Floor)
3 (Third floor)
The Holocaust Exhibition
Not recommended for children under 14.
4 (Fourth floor)
Crimes against humanity
Not recommended for children under 16.
Address: Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
Nearest Tube Station: Lambeth North
Opening Times: Open daily: 10am - 6pm. (Closed: 24, 25 and 26 December.)
Admission: Free. (Special exhibitions may charge an admission fee.)
- There are steep steps at the main entrance so if you need a level access, for example if bring a child in a buggy, or a wheelchair-bound visitor, go to the right of the building to the Park Entrance on the side.
- The building is fully accessible with two main lifts (elevators) plus an extra lift dedicated to the Holocaust Exhibition.
- On LG (Lower Ground) start on your left - The First World War - and keep to the left so you don't miss anything. It can be confusing as the exhibition winds around in little circles but follow the arrows and stay left and you won't miss anything.
- Photography is allowed so you can have fun taking photos of the large exhibits. I found the best views are from Floor 2.
- The shop usually has a sale at the end of a temporary exhibition so check for merchandise reductions.
- Floor 1 has a British heavy bomber plane fuselage which you can climb through. This is a hit with the kids who will go round and round and round...
- The Holocaust Exhibition and Crimes against humanity are both hard-hitting so be prepared to be affected. Do stop and take time to reflect as what you see can be disturbing.
- The Cafe has children's meal and snack options. Highchairs are available at the back of the last room.
- If the weather is good, have some time in the grounds which has a small outdoor cafe and space for kids to run around.
- Best for kids under 10: Large exhibits and the Children War exhibition.
- Best for pre-teens: Secret War - it's all about spies.
- Best for older teenagers: Holocaust Exhibition.