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NigelS

IWM re-opening

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NigelS

Ahead of the official re-opening of the Imperial War Museum on July 19th a preview from today's (11th July) Daily Telegraph

Imperial War Museum: new, provocative and improved (Imperial War museum puts art on the frontline in print version)

NigelS

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Steven Broomfield

Damn you. I was just about to post that link!

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David Filsell

I must say from the piece in the Torygraph the new look seems pretty unappealing and far too 'new museum' to me. I still like cases of things to see for my own interpretation rather than the trendy approach which spoon feeds. I will take a look, but I somehow can feel my disappointment already building. But who knows I could be wrong again with any luck.

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paulgranger

If I read the article correctly, it's the central atrium which will be the focus of an art-driven 'experience' (sorry, horribly arty word, but 'display' doesn't seem to fit) The other galleries still appear to be much as we have known them. I have no firm opinion on the new look, and will go along to see it before deciding. I have always made a point of visiting the art galleries whenever I've gone to IWM London, and found much to admire, except when they plonked a grey-sprayed Trabant in front of 'Gassed'. I would have been dismayed if the new look was based on huge posters quoting verses from the war poets!

Of course, for 'big boys' toys', there is still HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford, and IWM North

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Chris_Baker

The place was still a building site this morning!

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David Filsell

Perhaps they plan to enter it for the Turner Prize?

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auchonvillerssomme

I will have a busy week, Lancaster fly past on the 2nd Sept, IWM on the 3rd Sept, I will need the rest of the week off.

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RobL

Looks like a car park

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martin_sole

Sounds fantastic.

Looking forward to it immensely.

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AndrewBelsey

I went to the IWM London today and was angered as I expected - having seen images of the new dark, EMPTY atrium! Blooming architects!!!!!! They've put a floor over the top of it and lowered it one floor. Gone are most of the aircraft, tanks and vehicles - replaced by a cafe and a trinket shop for the kiddies!! The new Great War gallery is good, but again some of my old friends like the walk through trench experience have been thrown out and the tank is displayed so that you can hardly get a good view of it and no chance of looking inside. WW2 has been pushed to the sides with hardly a uniform on view. So a generally frustrating day that lots of my old 'friends' are no longer there. If I want to see concrete, space and air I can go elsewhere. I turned into Victor Meldrew today!

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Herekawe

I went last week on Friday before returning to NZ on Sunday. I think I have visited 5 times in the last 20 years. As Victor Meldrew above says there is a lot of changes and no doubt there will be a fair bit of discussion.

I had a bit of a hint about it as I went to Duxford the fortnight before and saw the 60pdr plus that German Observation Telescope cart which used to be inside the front door tucked away in the hangar where they recondition aircraft, with the same descriptive labels on them.

Space I guess is the issue and seems radical but perhaps a bigger building is required.

When we entered they gave us a ticket to enter the WW1 display. You go down a level to the main floor where there is a Press Landrover and a car smashed by a car bomb in Baghdad; the WW1 (Nery?) field gun and limber with children climbing all over it will soon wreck what the Germans failed to do, and a T34 Tank. V1 and V2 and a Spitfire are still there but no sign of any WW1 aircraft - probably gone to Duxford too.

At the correct time as per your ticket you enter the WW1 display which is fine; basically the same stuff redone laid out in a different way, a little disjointed perhaps. I don't think the number of people there was excessive but the way it is laid out as display plinths and paths is quite space intensive so you are slow to move through.

My personal feeling - overall this would be quite acceptable in a provincial museum (or NZs National Museum!) but to my mind anyway IWM should be the mother of all British and Commonwealth WW1 museums and I don't think it cuts it. My son at this stage found a comment re NZ that our army as "segregated" which he felt was untrue. There is a bit of social comment - for example regarding wealth distribution in UK prewar, number of people who had electric ranges pre WW2 etc, is this relevant to the goals of the IWM.

Moving on into WW2 and beyond is upstairs and frankly to me it seems to lack a clear plan as to what is intended. The IWM has great material but it is arranged haphazardly. Because the floors above don't flow around once you move through and area you have to move back through it to go on. Again the flow of people was very slow.

Art Gallery displays were great.

The Holocaust display has been there for a while, it may be the biggest display in the building. Its very good, my son found it very moving, but is the IWM the correct place for this?

There are shops and cafe's and I must say that the staff were excellent.

Our feelings upon leaving were indifferent really. During out stay in UK we went to (military ones) HMS Belfast, Duxford, Tank Museum, Artillery Museum and a couple of other smaller ones, plus plenty in France and Belgium and the Invalides in Paris. Seems harsh perhaps but I doubt IWM would make it into the top half.

James

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Steven Broomfield

Older daughter and I are visiting on Saturday. Report will follow.

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Steven Broomfield

Excellent.

Having caught the 0838 from Parkway and then walked from Waterloo, Emily and I arrived at about 1002. The queue was out past the gates, but was moving, and we joined it. At no point did the queue stop, and attendants were sited to explain what was happening. At the top of the steps, timed tickets were being distributed - we were allocated 1030, and were actually in the museum between 1010 and 1030.

Lots (and lots) of people (including half the Italian Navy) as we pottered about, and we joined the queue at 1030. In the Great War bit by 1035 - not for the fast-moving!

Anyway, I thought it was superb - remember it's not for the anorak, but for the casual visitor, and the casual visitor (should they wish) will learn a lot. For example, the 9.2" howitzer is there, and alongside is a full explanation of Jagger's Royal Artillery memorial, and why he chose the 9.2 as the centre piece. A 106 Fuze if there, too, with a simple explanation of what it was and (more importantly) what its significance was. The piece on Haig outlined quite succinctly how his reputation has been rehabilitated since the character assassination by Ll-G. The use of film, artefacts, uniform, weapons and the written word is first-class. One can even sit and watch the whole of Malins' film!

Outside the art galleries are back, with a vengeance - the Great War paintings and sculptures are sympathetically displayed and interpreted.

I agree that the WW2 stuff is limited, but this is a museum trying to cover 100 years of war; with the current emphasis on the Centenary it is natural the GW will be the main event. And, yes, a lot of our loved memories are gone: for myself I used to love the collection of British and Empire cap- collar- and shoulder badges, but they went west over 20 years ago. Any museum, let alone a national one, will have far more than can easily be shown, and with Duxford and the IWM North there are other places to display them.

Tea shops and gift shops - fulfilling a need (and doing a roaring trade). And as the museum is free to enter the money has to be raised somewhere.

Yes, there are areas of quibble, but overall I'd say a superb job has been done to update and upgrade the place.

My only suggestion would be - don't go at the weekend. Wait until a wet Wednesday in October ... never was Sartre's dictum more true!

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall

Older daughter and I are visiting on Saturday. Report will follow.

I will be visiting sometime. Report will follow.

Tom

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Scalyback

Thank You Mr B, One is there late september so hopefully less in the queues. £20 for two on the Megabus Premium no less but from South Wales will be agood trip.

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Neil Mackenzie

Broomers

I have always been a fan of the IWM but found the lighting used to be a bit weak in places making it difficult to read some of the explanations/panels. What is that like in the revamped museum?

Cheers

Neil

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Steven Broomfield

OK for me. There seems to be a better use of spotlights and suchlike.

I have to say I was very favourably impressed, but maybe I'm getting more easily pleased! I do think, however, that we need to remember that the IWM has to appeal to the general visitor as much as (more than?) to us. They also occupy a building the size of which is finite and have to cover the country's involvement in one hundred years of war (as opposed to the Hundred Years War).

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AndrewBelsey

I'm really pleased that Steven had a much better experience than I had. The new Great War exhibition is very good. What disturbed me was the loss of so many things that I used to go see. Things that had connections with my granfathers and relatives are no longer there. I am baffled by the new atrium which has lost the top floor and a half. The new hanging floor is too bright to display much and not strong enough (or accessable) to put heavy objects which would stand sunlight. Because of the loss of space overhead, they had to knock out the old ground floor, thus reducing floor space! It doesn't make sence to me? The old structure was held up by thin, white metal columns, whereas the the new area has ugly, heavy concrete pillars, which obstruct view of the objects in the middle and placed between them. I used to love this space, with the 3 planes swooping out towards you. I would spend ages looking around. I am just greived at what they've done to it.

Do go to the new GW exhibition - its well worth a visit, but those of us who were familiar with the old atrium will morne its demise. I do not agree with the modern way of 'uncluttering' museums. I, for one, loved the clutter!

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Dust Jacket Collector

Couldn't agree more, APB. This craze for huge, empty atria came in with the post-modern architects of the 1980s. Trouble is it was intended for use in giant skyscrapers where the loss of usable space didn't matter with so much to play with. Here it's just a designers conceit. I fear the revamping of the excellent National Army museum will result in the same profligate wasting of floor space.

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RobL

Is the 1,650lb bomb, which used to stand about 10 feet tall on its tail, alongside some WW1 shells in the corner behind the Churchill tank on the ground floor, still on display? Also, what about the 60 pounder gun?

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AndrewBelsey

No bomb, no shells, no Churchill, no 60 pounder - They have all gone into storage at Duxford!!!! This is what made me mad and yes I am bitter, which is very unusual for me.

The only things in the atrium now are V1, V2, Spitfire, Harrier, 13 pounder, T34, Land Rover and the remains of a car bomb. The old atrium had about 30 large objects at a guess. The 9.2 in howitzer, WW1 Tank and Sopwith Camel have survived in the new exhibition and one or two others sit, partially obscured, between the fat concrete pillars.

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martin_sole

I'm really pleased that Steven had a much better experience than I had. The new Great War exhibition is very good. What disturbed me was the loss of so many things that I used to go see. Things that had connections with my granfathers and relatives are no longer there. I am baffled by the new atrium which has lost the top floor and a half. The new hanging floor is too bright to display much and not strong enough (or accessable) to put heavy objects which would stand sunlight. Because of the loss of space overhead, they had to knock out the old ground floor, thus reducing floor space! It doesn't make sence to me? The old structure was held up by thin, white metal columns, whereas the the new area has ugly, heavy concrete pillars, which obstruct view of the objects in the middle and placed between them. I used to love this space, with the 3 planes swooping out towards you. I would spend ages looking around. I am just greived at what they've done to it.Do go to the new GW exhibition - its well worth a visit, but those of us who were familiar with the old atrium will morne its demise. I do not agree with the modern way of 'uncluttering' museums. I, for one, loved the clutter!

I was about to post my own review, but this one sums it up neatly.

The thick end of £10m spent on refurbishing a space that was pretty damn good as it was, and the removal of about 40% of the exhibits?

I found playing "hunt-the-description" pretty tiresome too.

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jf42

I was about to post my own review, but this one sums it up neatly.

The thick end of £10m spent on refurbishing a space that was pretty damn good as it was, and the removal of about 40% of the exhibits?

I found playing "hunt-the-description" pretty tiresome too.

The pointlessly detached, 'centralised' captioning of exhibits was indeed tiresome and meant visitors were squinting back and forth trying to find out what they were looking so whatever flow might have been possible- not much- was interrupted. It seemed pretty cluttered to me!

We couldn't get into the GW exhibit- (well, I did warn the others about Saturdays). I thought the VC gallery was terrible. Surely it should be a place of sober reflection. Having 'The Victor'-style comic-book narratives sounding out from several points simultaneously put paid to that. If the 'comic book' option is necessary to keep the nippers' attention then I would imagine they'd be happy to put on headphones. Also there seemed to be no order in which the recipients were arranged. 'Chronologically' would have been good.

History: "one damned thing after another"

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