On our first day in London, we decided to visit the Imperial War Museum (IWM). We were staying at a small hotel nearby and getting there meant just a three-minute walk. Whoopee! Summer walks in London? Why don’t mind if I do. 😉
IWM London is part of Britain’s Imperial War Museums – a family of 5 establishments in the UK dedicated to keep the lessons of the past alive.
We’ve been to three of the five during this trip and this is the first post on this series. Will be linking the other two here once they are up.
IWM London is housed in the former Bethlem Royal Hospital and has been there since the 30s. It’s quite hard to miss this building along Lambeth Road as right at the front are two, 15-inch guns taken from the HMS Roberts and HMS Ramillies.
The moment you walk inside, it is quite hard not to be impressed. You’ll be welcomed by a Harrier Jump Jet along with a couple more planes, rockets, and bombs. All are hung from the ceiling. We stood there gaping at them for a while.
There were also cars that were destroyed during the past two World Wars along with this surviving press vehicle. I always dreamed of becoming a war correspondent. Yes, even my husband finds that unbelievable. But I did and I guess I still do. I think covering conflict is the ultimate test of one’s resourcefulness.
But ok, enough rambling. I promised myself this was going to be a short post.
The IWM London has an impressive collection of war relics, models, and memorabilia. Each piece comes with a story that is told either by a nearby sign or their roving staff.
Weapons, aircraft, and even an interactive replica of a war-time trench can be found inside. It really is like traveling back in time and actually being there in the battle.
During our visit, there was an ongoing exhibit called Fashion in the Ration. While IWM doesn’t charge for admission, their special exhibits ask for minimal fees. No photos were allowed inside so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say I loved it! I love vintage fashion – especially from the 30s through the 60s – so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise.
During the war, rationing was done to give full support to the troops. Citizens had to give up a lot of their daily luxuries and it was quite interesting to see how women adjusted to what they had at the time.
Not just in fashion too – there was also a bit on food and other daily needs. Ingenuity at its finest. 😉
Another great thing about the IWM is how they take ‘interactive’ displays to the next level. There are staff members on the main hallway who have war relics with them. You can come up to them and ask questions or let them tell you the story behind it. They will even let you touch or wear the item – provided that you are careful of course!
I was able to touch and wear this authentic Prussian Pickelhaube during my visit and it was really so exciting for me! Sorry if I’m geeking out quite a bit here but I was told that it was from the 19th century!
And that’s it for this quickie post on the IWM London. I’ve visited a lot of museums in my life and I don’t even have to think twice when I say that it is one of the best out there. Even their museum shop is full of interesting and fun things! I wanted to give them my life’s savings! Good thing my husband was there to knock some sense into me.
It is a must visit and anyone who plans to go to London should definitely drop by!
London SE1 6HZ
Open everyday, 10am – 6pm
And before I go, here’s a photo of the nerds after our awesome time inside. 😉
P.S. Sorry for any typos. Gotta run to an event so I won’t be able to do a quick read/edit!
*Trip is not sponsored by any country’s tourism department, company, or brand. Although almost all of our expenses were shouldered by my side of the family who want to see me more often. Thanks, fam!????