IWM will be exploring refugee experiences throughout history as part of a new season of programming at IWM London and IWM North in 2020, featuring two major exhibitions, a series of events and a new site-specific art commission at IWM London from world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei.

The museum will also be marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, retelling the stories of these significant moments and highlighting the personal experience of the people whose lives were affected.

Discover what we have planned below and sign-up for our eNews to ensure you don't miss future announcements. 

Refugees: Forced to Flee, IWM London

Afghan teenagers play cricket against a shipping container in the Calais ‘Jungle’, in an area of the camp known as 'Afghan Square'.
© Rob Pinney

Refugees: Forced to Flee (opening 24 September) will explore how and why conflict has forced people to leave their homes and seek to build new lives elsewhere.

The exhibition will feature cutting-edge research projects supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It will also draw upon objects, film and photography from IWM’s rich historical collections and present contemporary material alongside newly commissioned artworks to reveal the personal stories of refugees and displaced people, from the First World War to the present day.

The exhibition is part of the Refugees season

Ai Weiwei at IWM London

Portrait of Ai Weiwei
Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photography by Gao Yuan.

Exploring international migration, conflict as a root cause of human flow, and the relationship between the individual, society and the state, History of Bombs is a new, site-specific artwork by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei that draws on the artist’s ongoing investigation into politics and power.

See it in IWM London’s iconic atrium from 1 August as part of the Refugees season. It will be the first time in history that the space will be given over in its entirety to an artist.

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire, IWM North

An aid worker in Arsal refugee camp in Lebanon with her arm around a woman.
© ICRC/Hussein Baydoun

Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire (opening 2 October) will take as its focus the humanitarian organisations around the world who work to support, care for and protect vulnerable populations forced to leave everything they know behind because of conflict.

Using personal stories and real-life objects from aid workers on the front line, the exhibition will explore the practical, ethical and emotional challenges each faces, highlighting the complexities of contemporary conflict.

The exhibition is part of the Refugees season

Complementing these exhibitions, the Refugees season will also include events at IWM London and beyond the museum walls in Manchester. Working with award-winning artists Anagram, these events will give visitors the opportunity to explore, through different lenses, personal stories and key issues around conflict and refugee experiences.

In addition, the IWM Institute will host a day-long symposium, as well as panel events, screenings and live performances, exploring themes addressed as part of the season.            

Victory 75

Two British sailors and their girlfriends wading in the fountains in Trafalgar Square on VE Day.
© IWM (EA 65799).

Victory 75 will reflect on a time of both celebration and trepidation in the summer of 1945. From 8 May until 15 August 2020, IWM will mark the 75th anniversaries of Victory in Europe DayVictory over Japan Day and the dropping of the atomic bomb with Victory 75, retelling the story of the end of the Second World War and the global aftermath in the months that followed.

At IWM London the meaning of victory will be explored through collections stories and a series of live events. Commemorations will continue in interventions that will see IWM take Victory 75 into public spaces across the UK.

Battle of Britain 80

Three pilots of No. 19 Squadron RAF confer at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, after a sortie.
© IWM (CH 1366)

From 6 July to 27 September 2020, IWM will mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, retelling the extraordinary story of the Second World War aerial campaign during the summer of 1940.

Battle of Britain 80 will uncover the historical figures associated with this momentous event while also shedding light on the roles of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and Allied pilots that joined the RAF.

IWM Duxford will open redeveloped areas of the historic site which played a direct role within the aerial campaign. The anniversary programme will culminate in a commemorative Battle of Britain Air Show.

Our branches

IWM London Exterior shot

IWM London

Our London museum tells the stories of people’s experiences of modern war from WW1 to conflicts today

IWM North

IWM North

Visit our iconic museum in Manchester and explore how war affects people’s lives.

IWM Duxford Showcase

IWM Duxford

Visit Imperial War Museum Duxford for a huge day out. See Spitfires take to the skies from the airfield where they first flew, get up close to gigantic aircraft and walk in the footsteps of the men and women who served here.

Winston Churchill

Churchill War Rooms

Explore the underground headquarters that between 1939 - 1945 acted as the top-secret nerve centre from where Churchill and his inner circle determined the course of the Second World War.

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast

Step on board this iconic London landmark. Navigate your way around the rooms of this floating city, climbing up and down ladders to visit all nine decks.