Imperial War Museum North
Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester, United Kingdom
0161 836 4000
Imperial War Museum North Manchester Reviews
Imperial War Museum Jan 02, 2011
The Imperial War Museum North is in a shiny new building in Salford Quays. The architecture is quite impressive on its own, designed to reflect earth, air and water (well, that’s what the architect said) and plated in steel. Entrance is free and disabled access seems fine, and most filmed material is subtitled.
It is a museum of war, but it emphasises the human stories rather than the hardware. All the display cabinets have accounts from people who were there included with the exhibits. There are, of course, some tanks and harrier jump jets to look at. But there are also the personal possessions of some people interred in the far east in world war two and some diaries and letters from the front lines of the Somme. There is even a letter written by a nineteen year old woman to her husband, telling him how much she loved him, that she sent the day he was killed in action. I challenge anyone not to be a little moved.
The museum sets great store by its multimedia approach, turning out the lights in the museum periodically to beam film and information onto the walls and play more firsthand accounts and sound effects of war. This is an incredibly
effective approach. In fact, I think you’d have to be careful taking any particularly sensitive small children into the museum because it would have scared me quite badly when I was tiny. That said, there are lots of
child-centred displays, information at child height and activities to take part in.
As this is an Imperial museum, it takes a very British-centric approach. It’s worth bearing in mind that, for example, there is quite a lot of information about British people interned in foreign wars but none about people interned by the British either in the war or in Northern Ireland. I don’t think that
detracts from the museum, myself – all war museums are biased, and the focus is very much on the human costs of war more than any propaganda about glories. There are also specific displays about the role of people from the rest of the commonwealth, women and about the history of people in the army who were homosexual.
There is generally a temporary exhibition. When I went it was focusing on the role of the Navy, and that was fascinating too.
This museum is fascinating, and free. That makes it a very good place to take older children and anyone you know who is interested in either history, or looking at tanks.
Part of the 2011 - UK Hometowns travel blog
Part of the list Free Things in the UK
Part of the list Manchester and the North West
Part of the list Leave London!
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