Date Published 07 August 2014
The summer holidays are well and truly upon us. For the next five weeks, parents everywhere will be plotting thrilling (energy-zapping/sleep inducing) activities to keep their youngsters occupied while school teachers therapeutically recuperate. But there's only so much BBQ-ing, beach-digging and ball-kicking fun that a five year old can handle. The inevitable whinges of 'Muuuuum, I'm bored' and the miserable, monotone mumbles of 'summer is rubbish' are the last things you want to hear, and luckily the fine folk at the Imperial War Museum could be on hand to help you.
To mark one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War, the ever-popular museum in Southwark has undergone a huge refurbishment project costing in the region of £40 million; a pro-ject consisting of new galleries and over 1,300 objects enlightening Britain and the Empire's successful, yet painstakingly poignant, conquest during the years 1914-1918. The museum also saw out major refurbishment to its glorious, gothic-style domed atrium that marks the North Entrance. Lord Norman Foster's architectural company, Foster and Partners, carried out the design works, and the atrium now features up to 400 objects on display (a rare collection of swords caught my eye for some time), 60 of which have never been seen before.
Accompanying past spectacles at the museum such as the size-defying, suspended Spitfire in the entrance hall and the harrowing Holocaust exhibition on the 4th floor, the latest galleries are a treasure trove of knowledge enhancing ingenuity, leaving a lasting impression on visitors of all ages. A lofty pride is stirred at the exhibits origins as you are taken through a brief, yet informative description of the strength and position of the British Empire in the years prior to the war, before embarking on a humbling, and deeply touching journey through the dark war years where so many souls were prematurely laid to rest.
There's no denying that the Imperial War Museum is one of the capital's most intuitive and interesting establishments. The sheer amount of effort that has gone into researching the deeply enriching displays and exhibitions is phenomenal and really is something that other institutions can aspire to. But you may be questioning whether a trip would be suitable for young Samuel who spends most of his time eating worms and cramming mud into his ears? Well, the answer is a resounding yes. As well as striking a home-hitting chord for the emotionally intoned, the museum also has a wonderful collection of guns, swords and weapons . . . and what kid doesn't like gaping at those?