Wednesday 23 July 2014

Imperial War Museum

The London Imperial War Museum was closed for months, until the end of last week. New First World War galleries have been opened to commemorate the centenary of the start of the War. Since we plan to learn about the First World War in the autumn, this seemed a "must visit" place. So, having managed ten pin bowling, first,  we wandered off to the Imperial War Museum.

Once we reached the atrium, I realised that I needed to give instructions to the children about what to do if they were separated from me-it was very full. Thankfully, my admonitions were unnecessary.

 I hadn't been to the Museum for ages but thought that there were fewer objects on display in the atrium. 

The labeling seemed a bit confusing with video displays in front of each item. It wasn't always clear, to me, what the item actually represented. I don't think that seeing the exhibits with children and worrying that they might get lost actually helped!

We wanted to see the First World War galleries. However, we arrived just before 1.30pm and all the day's timed tickets were gone. We could have waited until 4pm when admission is allowed without tickets but it seemed a long wait and there was no guarantee that it wouldn't have been very crowded.

Instead, we went to the Horrible History spy exhibition,

the exhibition of medals, First World War art exhibition (Truth and Memory) and the Family at War section. I don't have photographs of the exhibition of medals or the First World War art as photography isn't allowed in these galleries. Both exhibitions are well worth visiting. The medals tell the story of heroes who won the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. The art shows differences in attitude to the War and is thought provoking. 

The Family at War section isn't new but documents the life of a local family in the Second World War. There is an Anderson shelter which my youngest was keen to sit in. While we were in the shelter, another visitor told us that this was clean unlike his family Anderson shelter which had become very muddy with use. There was information about rationing of food and clothing.

My thought is that we should visit again once the Museum has been open again for a few weeks and after the school holidays. Many state schools only broke up today so I imagine that the difficulty getting into the new galleries will get worse before it gets better.

We also found that the first two levels were very crowded but that this was less of a problem further up in the Museum.

Has anyone any recommendations for educational trips about the First World War for younger children?

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  1. Thank you for posting about this. I've been wanting to visit the London IWM for ages. Incidentally, I'm looking to studying WW1 in the new year too, so I also look forward to how you'll be structuring your study!

    1. One of my jobs for the summer is to structure the study. At present, it is a rather vague list of resources!

    2. One of my jobs for the summer is to structure the study. At present, it is a rather vague list of resources!

  2. Here's a great wine for you! The Royal British Legion has a set of amazing resources which they will send to you. register on the site and find the resources section the pack will be with you very quickly. There are four CDs with clips and a book of lesson plans - it is really good.
    Hope that helps.

    1. Thank you, Prudence. That will be really useful.