IWM's Story

Imperial War Museum exhibit at Crystal Palace
© IWM (Q 17031)
Imperial War Museum exhibit at Crystal Palace

IWM was founded on 5 March 1917 when the War Cabinet approved a proposal by Sir Alfred Mond MP for the creation of a national war museum to record the events still taking place during the First World War.

The intention was to collect and display material as a record of everyone’s experiences during that war – civilian and military – and to commemorate the sacrifices of all sections of society.

The interest taken by the Dominion governments led to the renaming of the National War Museum to Imperial War Museum later in 1917. It was formally established by Act of Parliament in 1920 and a governing Board of Trustees appointed.

IWM is now governed by a Board of Trustees acting on the authority of the Imperial War Museum Acts 1920 and 1955, the Museums and Galleries Act 1992 and other relevant legislation.

We are a non-departmental public body (NDPB) with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as our sponsoring body.

Museum governance