The British Imperial War Museum is actually a set of museums all dealing with various aspects of 20th century warfare that involved Britain and the Commonwealth. The Main Museum is in the old Bedlam insane asylum in south London. The other locations are Imperial War Museum Duxford, the Cabinet War Rooms, HMS Belfast and Imperial War Museum North.

This page focuses on the Imperial War Museum North which is located in Manchester. The photos were taken by Daniel Boulet on a visit to the Museum on the 22nd of August, 2002 (the Museum was one day short of a month old).

If you're not actually interested in a museum dedicated to war then the building itself will make your trip worthwhile.
   'I wanted to create a building
            that people will find interesting and wish to visit,
       yet reflects the serious nature of a war museum.
I have imagined the globe broken into fragments and taken the
    pieces to form a building, three shards that together represent

          conflict on land, in the air and on water.'

Daniel Libeskind, Architect, 1997
Quote from the Museum's entrance lobby.

There are two windowless exhibition halls inside the museum occupying roughly the eastern half of the building (the rest of the space is presumably mostly storage, research and office space).

The Special Exhibitions Gallery is a large oddly shaped cavern at the north end of the building. It was showing a slide show documenting the construction of the museum.

The Main Exhibitions Gallery is a larger and even more oddly shaped cavern with lots of nooks and cranies. It contains a few large objects:

The space contains six themed display areas: Two rather novel display cases are called TimeStacks. These each contain a number of trays of somewhat smaller objects, each tray of which is brought forward upon the request of the viewer (i.e. sort-of like a small automated warehouse of small objects).

About every fifteen to twenty minutes, one of a series of "Big Picture" slide presentations with audio narration appears on all of the walls of the Main Exhibitions Gallery. The three rather dark photographs towards the end of this page were taken during the "Big Picture" that deals with the impact of war on children. These three photographs are derivative works of a (presumably) copyrighted work. As derivative works, I feel comfortable placing my copyright on them. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to guess that the original work is "Copyright Imperial War Museum".

The last photograph is of a bust of interesting design in one of the exhibit cases.

The Museum from the east. The tower representing conflict in the air rises out of the shard representing conflict on land. The shard on the left represents conflict on water (the smaller tower on the left is actually a building across the street from the museum).

The truly observant may notice that the shadows are different in this photo than in the other exterior shots on this page. The reason for the discrepancy is that this photo was taken a few hours after the other photos.

This photo was actually taken as I was leaving the Museum although it is a reasonable approximation of my first view of the Museum.

The Museum as viewed from the north. The tall central section is an almost entirely empty tower with a viewing platform (see the darker horizontal element about two thirds up). Unfortunately, the platform was closed on the day of my visit.

A shot taken from just outside the restaurant (the restaurant's windows are visible in the "water shard" on the left). Believe it or not, the restaurant's windows are parallel with the ground.

The Museum from the south (the overlap in the photo between the sign on the right and the restaurant was deliberate although obviously a mistake in hindsight).

The "water shard" from the west south west. Don't worry - all the floors are parallel to the ground!

The "land shard" from the south west corner (using an extra wide angle lens for effect). The "air shard" tower is partially visible to the left and the "water shard" is partially visible on the right.

The public entrance to the museum (the small door just to the right of the lamp post) seems to deliberately emphasize just how much war overwhelms humans.

The first of three photos taken during the "Big Picture" dealing with the impact of war on children. This photo is of children trying to sleep in shelters during the Blitz. These photos were all taken by turning off my flash and setting the camera on the bench that I was sitting on. Note the fire-fighting wagon in the foreground.

Children's drawings. Note the fire-fighting wagon silhouetted by the images on the far wall and the glare of the slide projector which was displaying a similar drawing on me and the wall that I was sitting against.

Children amongst the terror of war. Note the person walking between me and the far wall (silhouetted by the traffic sign). The announcements leading up to each "Big Picture" encourage you to move around during the presentation for maximum effect.

This is a bust by R.A. Bertelli of a prominent leader associated with warfare during the 20th century. The bust is symmetric in a circular sense (i.e. the appearance doesn't change if you rotate the bust around the vertical axis by an arbitrary number of degrees).

Do you recognize the subject? Lookup "Bertelli" and "Imperial War Museum" on Google for the answer.

Daniel Boulet

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