Essential Architecture-  London

Imperial War Museum originally been a psychiatric hospital, Bethlem Royal Hospital

architect

Sydney Smirke

location

Lambeth North

date

c. 1890

style

NeoClassical

construction

brick, stone

type

Museum
 
  Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, London
The Imperial War Museum is a museum in London featuring military vehicles, weapons, war memorabilia, a library, a photographic archive, and an art collection of 20th century and later conflicts, especially those involving Britain, and the British Empire. This location is the headquarters of a 6-branch system. The other locations are listed at the end of the page. The museum is partially subsidized by the government, but also relies on individual contributions.


Fragment of the Berlin Wall, in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum.

Fragment of the Berlin Wall, in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum.

A replica of the Colditz "Cock" Glider as seen at the Imperial War Museum.

A replica of the Colditz "Cock" Glider as seen at the Imperial War Museum.

P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum.

P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum.

A German World War II-era Jagdpanther tank destroyer, in the main lobby of the Imperial War Museum.

A German World War II-era Jagdpanther tank destroyer, in the main lobby of the Imperial War Museum.

The Museum
The Museum features military vehicles, weapons, war memorabilia, a library, a photographic archive, and an art collection. Items in the Museum are not necessarily British, and include other nations at war at the time, primarily France, the United States, Germany, Italy, and Russia. Its vast collection contains over 15,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures, and over 30,000 posters. According to the Museum, its collection includes "objects ranging from aircraft, armoured fighting vehicles and naval vessels to uniforms, badges, personal equipment, and medals and decorations; documents, both British and foreign; printed books comprising a national reference library of over 155,000 items; 120 million feet of cine film and over 6,500 hours of video tape; over 6 million photographs and photographic negatives." The grandeur of its collection has transformed the museum into an archive and art museum, as well. Outside the main entrance of the museum are mounted two 15" naval guns from former Royal Navy warships. The left-hand gun was mounted in HMS Ramillies, a Revenge-class battleship, from 1916 to 1941. The right-hand gun was mounted in another Revenge-class battleship, HMS Resolution, from 1915 to 1938, and then in the monitor HMS Roberts, where it took part in the D-Day bombardments.

Current exhibits
There is a special exhibit devoted to the World War II Holocaust, showcasing its horrors and brutality. The exhibit, which was opened on D-Day (June 6, 2000, was in part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

History
Originally located inside the Imperial Institute (now Imperial College), the Imperial War Museum was moved temporarily to the Crystal Palace, located atop Sydenham Hill. The Museum was founded there in 1917 to commemorate those who had died in World War I (which was still being fought at the time). When that building burned down on November 30, 1936, a new location had to be found, and a building in Lambeth was settled on. That building, designed by Sydney Smirke, had originally been a psychiatric hospital, Bethlem Royal Hospital (otherwise known as "Bedlam"), located in St. George's Fields. In 1939, the Museum began including things relating to WWII, and then finally in 1953 it began its current policy of including memorabilia from all modern British conflicts.

Visiting the Museum
Entrance is free, though there may be charges for special exhibits. Donations are accepted. It is open daily, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm.

Nearest Underground stations
Lambeth North tube station
Waterloo station
Southwark tube station
Elephant & Castle station

Nearest railway stations
Waterloo station
Elephant & Castle station
 

links

Imperial War Museum official website
www.essential-architecture.com