IWM's unparalleled and unique collections stretch from the everyday to the exceptional and contain some of the most important technical, social, economic, political, personal and cultural artefacts relating to Britain and its role in conflict since the First World War.

Our collections are managed by time period. Each covers the scale, depth, breadth and range of media – art, film, photographs, sound, documents and objects , and illustrate the reactions, memories and stories of the whole of society.

  • Battle of the Somme Archive Film Imperial War Museum Licensing First World War

    First World War and Early Twentieth Century: 1900 to 1929

    IWM's First World War collections include some of the first objects collected by IWM. They highlight the role of individuals in the effort made by Britain and its empire during the first modern global war. 

  • Commandos of HQ 4th Special Service Brigade, coming ashore from LCI(S) landing craft on Nan Red beach, Juno area, at St Aubin-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.
    IWM (B 5218)

    Second World War and Mid-Twentieth Century: 1929 to 1949

    IWM's Second World War collections explore many facets of the global events that made up the tumultuous period at the middle of the twentieth century. 

  • A child using a hammer and chisel to remove a piece of the Berlin Wall after its opening by the East German Government on 9 November 1989
    © IWM (CT 1493)

    Cold War and Late Twentieth Century: 1949 to 2000

    IWM's Cold War collections illuminate the Cold War itself as well as conflicts associated with new nations forging their independence, and post-Cold War violence motivated by ethnic, national and religious tensions. 

  • A soldier in uniform walks away from the camera at Camp Bastion, the principal British base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
    © IWM (DC 2556)

    Contemporary Conflicts: 2001 to date

    IWM's Contemporary Conflict collections explore armed conflicts significant to the UK since 2001. They illustrate conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine as well as the human impact of significant terrorist attacks like September 11 and the London Bombings.

  • Two men sit at a table sorting reference cards.  A man and woman stand with their backs towards the camera
    © IWM D 22110

    Library Collections: 1914 to date

    IWM's library collections include books, journals, pamphlets and printed material which provide context about the conflicts we cover. The library collections span all nations involved in war and conflict since 1914,  with a particular focus on social, economic, political, literary, artistic, and military history.