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Imperial War Museum


Imperial War Museum.
Lonely Planet/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Imperial War Museum London
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Imperial War Museum London
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Imperial War Museum London reopened after a £40 million redevelopment on 19 July 2014. The new atrium is now from the basement to the roof with nine large objects on display and new video information screens.

There are also new First World War Galleries down on Level 0. This area is divided into themes and has photos, keepsakes, uniforms, and much more. These galleries are extremely well put together but my only criticism would be that you have to see it all at once and can't step out if your visit becomes emotional.

The galleries on the other floors have also been changed and there are now information boards in each section instead of labels with each exhibit. Some galleries have remained unchanged such as The Holocaust exhibition and A Family At Wartime.

The special family exhibition Horrible Histories: Spies is on until 4 January 2015. (Read my review of Horrible Histories: Spies.)

While I previously would have recommended the Imperial War Museum London as a good museum for families I would offer a word of caution for younger children as some exhibits are "the stuff of nightmares".

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.

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.)

Website: london.iwm.org.uk

Nearby Dining: There's a cafe at the museum and I can  recommend Masters Super Fish - Fish and Chips restaurant too.

Visitor Tips:

  1. Until the new main entrance is completed (the next phase of the museum's redevelopment) 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 are a wheelchair visitor, go to the right of the building to the Park Entrance on the side.
  2. The building is fully accessible with two main lifts (elevators) inside.
  3. Photography is allowed so you can have fun taking photos of the large exhibits. 
  4. The shop usually has a sale at the end of a temporary exhibition so check for merchandise reductions.
  5. 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...
  6. 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.
  7. The Cafe has children's meal and snack options. Highchairs are available at the back of the last room.
  8. If the weather is good, have some time in the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park to give the kids space to run around.

You can book a Wartime London Tour through Viator.

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