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Second World War Galleries, Imperial War Museum

London, England

The Imperial War Museums are national museums dedicated to providing an understanding of modern war and the wartime experience. The Imperial War Museum, London, opened the new Second World War Galleries and Holocaust Galleries, a transformational update six years in the making.

In its development of the Second World War Galleries, RAA sought to broaden the context of the museum’s traditional story by emphasizing the global nature of the conflict and the enduring impact this pivotal event still has on Britain in the twenty-first century. With more than 3,500 items and personal stories from over 80 countries, the Second World War Galleries show the unprecedented scale of this global conflict.

The Galleries bring together untold stories and unheard voices to help visitors understand the most devastating conflict in human history. Incorporating well known, familiar artifacts alongside material displayed by IWM for the first time, and using the full range of modern display techniques, the new galleries aim to engage a new generation of museum visitors. A color-coded graphic information system is threaded throughout the visitor experience to help visitors absorb this complex history.

IWM has collected significant, new acquisitions from China, the US, Japan and from across Britain’s former Empire to ensure that the Museum can, for the first time, tell the truly global narrative of this conflict. The combination of these international stories, together with the many objects and displays revealing British experiences—such as a deconstructed 1940s house that brings to life the devastating impact of the Blitz on ordinary lives—aim to help every visitor feel a deep, personal connection with the content. The RIBA Journal wrote: “Enlightening, engaging, reflective and sobering, these expertly realized new galleries are a triumph.”

Size 11,840 square feet

Year 2021

Project Details

Lighting DHA Lighting

Hardware ProductionSysco


Mechanical InteractivesUnusual Projects

Scenic artistsMichael Whiteley

AwardsMUSE Design Award: Gold, Exhibits, Pavilions & ExhibitionsMuseums+Heritage: Winner, Best Permanent ExhibitionRed Dot Award: Winner, Brand and Communication Design 2022