Since its foundation in 1917 IWM has been building its collections in order to illustrate and record all aspects of conflict in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We want our collections to continue to engage, challenge and remain relevant to our audiences, and we need to safeguard it for future generations.

IWM’s collection covers all aspects of conflict involving Britain, its former Empire and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. As well as objects, it includes a range of media, from artfilm and photographs to printed materials, documents and sound.

Browse our collections

View of St Pauls


IWM holds approximately 11 million photographs covering the cause, course and consequences of modern conflict from the First World War to present day.

Section of twisted and rusted steelwork from the collapsed World Trade Center, New York
EPH 10364.2


IWM cares for over 155,000 three-dimensional objects.

Sound Archive

The Sound Archive holds over 33,000 recordings relating to conflict since 1914. This consists of the largest oral history collection of its type in the world, with contributions from both service personnel and non-combatants as well as significant holdings of speeches, sound effects, broadcasts, poetry and music.

A cameraman of the RAFFPU poses, focussing a Bell & Howell Eyemo 35mm film camera with a telephoto lens.
© IWM CH 13069


Our constantly growing collection now extends to over 23,000 hours of moving images.

Second World War Air Raid Precautions gas mask card and three bus tickets bearing the war-time slogan 'Beat the paper hanger be a paper-saver'.


Our documents cover a wealth of personal experience and testimony, both British and foreign, as well as official records.

An unnaturally bright sun blazes over a landscape with a river. There is an aircraft flying over the desert in the lower right of the composition.
Art.IWM ART 4623

Art and Design

IWM's exceptional Art collection is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art in the world

Staple bound, feint ruled exercise book containing newspaper cuttings adhered to its pages
LBY K. 74101-1

Books and Publications

IWM holds a large collection of published material relating to twentieth and twenty-first-century conflict.

IWM A 10763

Museum Administrative Records

The museum archive manages IWM’s own administrative records, which date back to its foundation in 1917. They are public records and researchers may search some of the records online or book an appointment at the IWM London Research Room to consult these records.

Related Pages

A group of Imperial War Museum staff inspect frames stacked against a wall, while remounting the museum's displays in South Kensington in 1924
© IWM (Q 36914)

Donate an Object to IWM

IWM welcomes gifts of historic material. Public generosity has helped to grow IWM's collections since our foundation in 1917.

The IWM Duxford Conservation Team removing wing bolts

Managing IWM's Collections

Find out how IWM safeguards its collections for future generations.

A side on view of a line of soldiers being led along a duckboard by a medical orderly. Their eyes are bandaged as a result of exposure to gas and each man holds on to the shoulder of the man in front.
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 1460)

IWM Loans programme

Our loans programme is one of the ways IWM shares its collections, knowledge and skills with organisations worldwide. IWM lends material from its exceptional collections to museums across the UK and abroad.