Imperial War Museum London is embarking on a major project to renew its First World War galleries as part of the Museum’s plans to lead the cultural commemorations of the First World War centenary in 2014. The new galleries, due to open in Summer 2014, will allow the Museum to improve access to its vast and rich First World War Collections, enabling current and future generations to understand and commemorate the toil and sacrifice of individuals who lived, fought and died in the Great War.

The First World War galleries will be the first in a series of redevelopment projects taking place over the next decade which will regenerate Imperial War Museum London. The Museum has worked with architects, Foster + Partners to develop a Masterplan, which will create exciting new galleries and exhibition spaces within the footprint of the existing building. The new spaces will improve public facilities, accommodate higher visitor numbers, offer an easy to navigate route around the Museum, make the building more energy efficient and increase opportunities for the Museum to generate income.

The new First World War galleries will be approximately twice the size of the current galleries enabling the Museum to display much more of its world renowned First World War Collection which includes art, film, sound recordings and photographs. Original objects such as personal items, letters and diaries will be exhibited in highly interactive, multimedia displays which explore the personal stories of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War.

The Museum’s central atrium space will also be transformed, redisplaying and interpreting the Museum’s iconic large objects to make it easier for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of their historical significance and context.

Longer term regeneration plans include a new ground-level entrance and landscaping at the front of the building, creating a community space which improves public access and provides a home for the iconic naval guns. This, combined with twenty per cent more gallery space, upgraded visitor facilities and a larger and more flexible temporary exhibition space, will see a transformed Museum in time for the eightieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War in 2019.

Diane Lees, Director-General of the Imperial War Museum said: “We are excited by this unique opportunity to regenerate Imperial War Museum London. I can’t think of a more fitting way to start the transformation than with the creation of new galleries to mark the First World War centenary in 2014. The Imperial War Museum was founded during the First World War as ‘a lasting memorial of common effort and common sacrifice’ to those who played their part in the conflict. The new galleries will allow us to continue this work in the twenty-first century and help current and future visitors to learn and understand more about the causes, course and consequences of the Great War.”

The Museum is currently fundraising to support specific redevelopment projects within the Masterplan, starting with the new First World War galleries. Approximately £29 million is needed for the First World War galleries and initial improvements to the atrium and public facilities, all to be completed by the end of 2014. The total cost of works, including the new entrance, which is due to be finished by 2019 is approximately £71 million, at today’s prices. Funds are being sought from a variety of sources including philanthropic donations, trusts and foundations, corporate partners, and the public. The Imperial War Museum Foundation, an independent charitable body set up under the chairmanship of Lord Rothermere to help generate funds for the Museum’s ambitious plans, has already begun fundraising for the First World War galleries and is honoured and delighted at the recent announcement that Prince William has agreed to become its Patron.

All work will be phased in line with the generosity of donors.

The details of the redevelopment will now be subject to an extensive consultation process before the final designs are worked up and a planning application is submitted in 2012.

IWM London
Lambeth Road
London SE1 6HZ
Tel: 020 7416 5000 or email contact@iwm.org.uk. International callers: at +44 (0)20 7416 5000

Open every day 10am – 6pm, including Bank Holidays, Free admission

Last admission is at 5.30pm
Closed 24, 25, and 26 December

Some temporary exhibitions charge. Concession tickets are available for Seniors, Students, and the unemployed.

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