From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

London Imperial War Museum

Greater London
51° 29 '46.7" N, 0° 06' 38.0" W

  • History
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  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
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The London Imperial War Museum is located in the heart of London, on the site of the Bethlem Royal Hospital.

During the Great War, in 1917, the government decided to set up a National War Museum to collect and display artifacts from the war then raging across Europe. The Dominion governments showed enough interest to give the museum the title of the Imperial War Museum. It was established by an Act of Parliament in 1920 and a Board of Trustees were appointed.

The museum was first located in the Crystal Palace and opened by King George V in 1920. It was then moved to the former Imperial Institute in South Kensington in 1924. Sadly to fit into the two galleries it was provided it had to dispose of a third of its collection.

In 1936 the Duke of York, soon to be know as King George VI, reopened the museum in the central building of Bedlam, the Bethlem Royal Hospital.

The museum was closed during the Second World War, its vulnerable exhibits were evacuated to storage areas outside of London. Most of the museum escaped harm, except for the Naval Gallery which suffered minor damage when a German bomb destroyed a Short seaplane.

Although the museums primary mission was to protect and display items from the First World War it was expanded to cover both World Wars in the 1940's. In 1953 it was expanded again to include all military operations in which Britain and its commonwealth has been involved in since 1914.