Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum preserves the stories of Britain's armed conflicts from World War I to the present day. Founded in the midst of the First World War, IWM has the mission of telling the stories of people within and beyond the British borders. Moving and intriguing, IWM covers over 100 years of war history.

The Imperial War Museum in London is actually part of a larger network, a total of five museums dedicated to covering war and conflict. Other locations include the IWM North in Manchester, the IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire, the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall London, and the Royal Navy ship HMS Belfast, permanently moored on the river Thames in London. Next to permanent displays, the museum regularly features temporary exhibitions, hosts events, and offers educational activities to further its mission of helping visitors truly understand the deep rooted effects wars have on the world.

Founded after a proposal by Sir Alfred Mond MP in 1917 to have a national war museum to document the events still going on in the country, the Imperial War Museum started as a place to collect and display materials that had not just military but also social and cultural significance. After receiving museum status, it was moved and officially opened in the Crystal Palace by King George V on June 9, 1920. From 1924 to 1935, the museum was located in two galleries next to the former Imperial Institute in South Kensington. In 1936, the Duke of York (later King George VI), reopened the museum as it stands today in the central portion of the former Bethlem Royal Hospital on Lambeth Road. Much like during the First World War, when the Second World War broke out, collection of items for the museum began almost immediately. The museum was closed and valuable items stored outside of London during the war.

The outbreak of the Korean War again extended the purpose of the Imperial War Museum to include items and displays referring to any conflicts involving British or Commonwealth forces since 1914. This broad remit has allowed the IWM to be more than just a war museum, but also an art gallery, a research center, and a national archive. The Imperial War Museum is funded partly by the government and therefore relies on volunteers, donations and sponsorship. The museum is open every day between 10 am and 6 pm and admission is free.