IWM collects objects from many sources, including artists, members of the public, government departments and military personnel.
We build our collections proactively, by commissioning practitioners, and forging relationships, in line with our collecting priorities. And reactively, by carefully considering offers and transfers.
All new acquisitions contribute to the richness and diversity of ours collections, and the stories of war and conflict we tell.
Tipperary by Walter Sickert
Tipperary, painted by Walter Sickert (1860 to 1942) in 1914 is one of the very few art works by a major artist in IWM's collections which was painted during the first few months of the First World War. It shows a soldier leaning out of a window while a woman, reflected in a mirror, plays the piano. The work, and its title evoking the popular song It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, convey the optimism and sense of adventure associated with the men going off to war, in contrast to the perceived unexciting supporting role of women civilians.
Yamaha electric keyboard
This electric keyboard was recovered from a civilian’s home near Mosul, Iraq after his brother returned there following the liberation from ISIS in 2017. Mosul had fallen to ISIS in June 2014, after the group had overrun much of northern Iraq and parts of Syria. The donor’s family had been forced to abandon their home overnight, leaving behind most of their possessions as ISIS rapidly took the city and surrounding areas.
The keyboard was damaged by ISIS militants in their attempts to destroy it. Under ISIS, like other Sunni Islamist and extremist groups, owning musical instruments was forbidden. Their destruction and punishments for owning such instruments feature in ISIS’ social media propaganda.
This object illustrates the impact on civilians of living under the ISIS ‘Caliphate’ and of the consequences of both the Iraq War and of ISIS.
13th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron sign
This sign features the emblem (designed by Walt Disney Studios) of the US Army Air Force's 13th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron- the first operational reconnaissance unit of the US Army Air Force to serve in the UK during the Second World War. The sign hung outside the squadron’s photographic laboratory at Mount Farm in Oxfordshire c.1944 to 1945, where images taken on missions were processed and subjected to preliminary interpretation.
The sign symbolises the overlooked but crucial role that photographic reconnaissance played in the course of the Allied combined bomber offensive. As Mount Farm was reverted to farmland in the 1950s this is also one of the few tangible traces left of its wartime purpose, and would have been a ubiquitous feature of the base to the Americans serving there.