Until 5 September 2021

IWM London

Free event with general admission


he brilliance of this intervention lies in the fact that you don’t need to know it’s art to find it interesting' 
The Guardian


Internationally renowned artist, Ai Weiwei, takes over IWM London’s iconic atrium with a new artwork.

Be immersed in this site-specific artwork, as the atrium is given in its entirety to an artist for the first time in the history of the building.

Exploring international migration, conflict as a root cause of human flow, and the relationship between the individual, society and the state, History of Bombs draws on the artist’s ongoing investigation into politics and power.   

Ai Weiwei on History of Bombs:

‘History of Bombs is about the essential facts of our modern history, which have not been shown all in one space to the public. The work focuses on our human capacity for destruction; how we attempt to solve political, religious, and economic crises through the use of explosives, which is against any humanity and rationality. Today, we have many more bombs with unthinkably destructive power, capable of reducing civilization to dust and smoke. 

This is the first time the work has been presented in such a unique museum. The space allows for a total viewing, experiencing and understanding of human behaviour today, and perhaps the future as well.

Ai Weiwei  

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

Ai Weiwei  

A global citizen, artist and thinker, Ai Weiwei moves between modes of production and investigation, subject to the direction and outcome of his research, whether into the Chinese earthquake of 2008 (for works such as Straight, 2008-12 and Remembering, 2009) or the worldwide plight of refugees and forced migrants (for Law of the Journey and his feature-length documentary, Human Flow, both 2017). From early iconoclastic positions in regards to authority and history, which included Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn and a series of middle-finger salutes to sites of power, Study of Perspective (both 1995), Ai’s production expanded to encompass architecture, public art and performance.

Beyond concerns of form or protest, Ai now measures our existence in relation to economic, political, natural and social forces, uniting craftsmanship with conceptual creativity. Universal symbols of humanity and community, such as bicycles, flowers and trees, as well as the perennial problems of borders and conflicts are given renewed potency though installations, sculptures, films and photographs, while Ai continues to speak out publicly on issues he believes important. He is one of the leading cultural figures of his generation and serves as an example for free expression both in China and internationally.

History of Bombs is part of Refugees, a free season of exhibitions, artistic commissions and immersive events taking place across IWM London and IWM North. Unlocking the personal stories of people who have been forced to flee their homes and those who work to support and care for them, Refugees gives us the space to consider our own responses to similar experiences and dilemmas.

Exclusive to IWM Shop

History of Bombs Mug

This black mug features the exclusively designed Ai Weiwei History of Bombs artwork. It has been printed and hand decorated by hand in the UK. 

History of Bombs T-Shirt

This black cotton t-shirt made from 100% combed ringspun cotton features the exclusively designed Ai Weiwei History of Bombs artwork and is printed in the UK.

History of Bombs Tote

This black tote bag with gusset featuring the exclusively designed Ai Weiwei History of Bombs artwork on one side is made from canvas cotton and is printed in the UK.

Ai Weiwei Bombs Limited Edition Poster

A limited edition print of the full History of Bombs artwork by Ai Weiwei. It is matt printed and includes a signed certificate of authenticity. It comes pre rolled in a card poster tube.