Collections

Search around 800,000 items that tell the story of modern war and conflict, collected by the museum since 1917.

IWM’s collections cover all aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century conflict involving Britain, the Commonwealth and other former empire countries. They were intended to record the 'toil and sacrifice' of every individual affected by war.

Our collections stretch from the everyday to the exceptional. They contain some of the most important technical, social, economic, political, personal and cultural artefacts relating to Britain and its role in twentieth-century conflict. The scale, depth, breadth and range of media – art, film photographs, sound, new media, writings and objects – contain the reactions, memories and stories of the whole of society.

Alongside the material that has been commissioned or created for official or military purposes are the personal responses to eye-witnessed events and the tokens that ordinary people have given to IWM so that their experience of war, or that of their family, can be passed on to future generations. This material includes intensely personal items such as diaries and letters, as well as trinkets which were mass-produced but have held huge personal significance to previous owners.

The Museum’s own administrative records, dating from our foundation in 1917 are held by the Museum Archive.

IWM supports and encourages research into our collections and they are open to the public. You can find out more about accessing our collections on our Research Facilities page.